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How Much Data Does Streaming Music Use?

Find out how much data Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Apple Music use

Today, people stream music and audio on a variety of devices: smartphones, tablets, and voice-controlled speakers like Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google’s Home devices. They use services like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and more to stream their favorite music. But how much data does streaming music use?

Data usage depends on stream quality

The amount of data your music streaming services use depends on the streaming quality settings in the app. Quality settings are measured in bitrate, which is the rate at which data is processed or transmitted. The higher the bitrate, the better the quality of the music when you listen to it.

For example, Apple Music peaks at 256 Kbps (kilobits/second), while Spotify Premium peaks at 320 Kbps. Most services allow you to change the quality setting depending on your subscription type and how you listen to the music (for example, over Wi-Fi or mobile network).

In terms of data usage, 320 Kbps means approximately 2.40 MB of audio per minute or 115.2 MB of audio per hour. Therefore, streaming music during an 8-hour workday will consume almost 1GB of data.

Every streaming service is different

When it comes to individual music streaming services, they each have slightly different quality ratios. For some, it’s because of the music file types they use; for others, it depends on each customer’s subscription level.

How much data does Pandora use?

  • Pandora Free: Wi-Fi streams music at 128 Kpbs and uses around 60-70MB per hour.
  • Pandora Free: Mobile data automatically streams music at 64Kpbs and uses around 30MB per hour.
  • Pandora Plus or Prize: Wi-Fi or mobile data automatically uses 192 Kbps and uses about 90MB per hour.

Any paid Pandora account has the option to stream low (32 Kpbs), standard (64 Kpbs), and high (192 Kpbs) quality regardless of how you listen. The default is high quality unless changed otherwise.

How much data does Spotify use?

Spotify offers different streaming quality options based on the subscription level, not the device the listener is listening to. Free and premium accounts have automatic, low, normal, and high streaming levels, while premium gets a “very high” option on top of that.

It doesn’t matter if you’re listening on your desktop, smartphone or tablet, here are the Spotify music streams:

  • Automatic (free and premium): Spotify will adjust the quality of your stream based on your network connection.
  • Low (free and premium): Streams music at 24 Kbps and uses approximately 90 MB per hour (or 0.09 GB per hour).
  • Normal (free and premium): Streams music at 96 Kbps and uses approximately 345 MB per hour (or 0.35 GB per hour).
  • High (free and premium): Streams music at 160 Kbps and uses approximately 576 MB per hour (or 0.6 GB per hour).
  • Very high (premium only): Transfers music at 320 Kbps and uses about 1.2GB per hour.

How much data does Amazon Music use?

Amazon hasn’t officially announced the streaming quality of its music service available to Prime members or the separate Amazon Music Unlimited. The general consensus online is that the audio quality options range from 48 Kbps to 320 Kbps, depending on the quality of the stream. Listeners can choose the quality option based on how they listen, which is appropriate for when you’re listening on mobile networks.

On the lower end you would use about 175 MB or 0.175 GB per hour, on the high end you would use about 1.2 GB per hour.

How much data does Apple Music use?

Unlike other music streaming services, Apple Music streams at 256 Kbps no matter how you listen, meaning you’ll use about 1GB per hour.

How much music can you stream on your data plan?

Based on the information above, see how much data you’ll use across multiple plans.

On a 2GB mobile data plan you can stream up to:

  • 47 hours of low quality music
  • 28 hours of normal quality music
  • 17 hours of high quality music

On a 5GB mobile data plan you can stream up to:

  • 117 hours of low quality music
  • 70 hours of normal quality music
  • 42.5 hours of high quality music

On a 10GB mobile data plan you can stream up to:

  • 234 hours of low quality music
  • 140 hours of normal quality music
  • 85 hours of high quality music

Strategies and tools for managing data usage

If you don’t have unlimited mobile data on your smartphone plan, you’ll want to learn how to manage your music streaming data usage.

Streaming over Wi-Fi only. The first option is to only stream music while connected to Wi-Fi. In addition to the data usage savings you’ll enjoy, Wi-Fi signals tend to be more stable, so you won’t experience signal degradation and low bitrates. Internet service providers can still optimize your bandwidth, but not to the same degree as your wireless company.

Update your music streaming account. Some, like Pandora and Spotify, offer higher quality bitrates for paid listeners, but also offer more listening options. Customize your playlists, download songs or entire albums, and more with your paid account.

Set your streaming app to listen offline. Most music streaming services offer the option to download audio content for offline listening. This is ideal for when you can’t connect to Wi-Fi or mobile internet for real-time streaming.

Depending on the service you use and the subscription level you have, you will be able to download different audio content. For example, Pandora makes certain content available for download, while Spotify lets you download up to 10,000 songs. Most services also require you to continue your subscription to continue listening to downloaded music. Songs will be removed from your account/app when your subscription expires.

Use a data management app. For mobile device users, there are data management apps you can install to monitor data usage. They will monitor your usage and notify you before your data runs out. Some data management practices to consider include:

  • My Data Manager (Android and iOS)
  • RadioOpt Traffic Monitor (Android and iOS)
  • Data usage (Android and iOS)
  • Next DataMan (iOS)
  • Glasswire Data Usage Monitor (Android)

Monitor usage in your mobile provider app. The final strategy to monitor your data usage is to use your mobile service provider’s app. Most offer the ability to monitor your data usage in real-time through their apps and send you notifications when you reach preset usage levels. For example, T-Mobile sends a text message with 80% and 100% usage of any service (text, voice or data), while Sprint sends a message for most plans with 75%, 90% and 100% usage of any service. . Consult your mobile operator to download the branded app.


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How Much Data Does Streaming Music Use?

Learn how much data Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Apple Music Use

Today, people stream music and audio on a variety of devices: smartphones, tablets, and voice-controlled speakers like Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google’s Home devices. They use services like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and more to stream their favorite music. But how much data does streaming music use?

Data Usage Depends on Streaming Quality

The amount of data your music streaming services use depends on the streaming quality settings in the application. The quality settings are measured in bitrates, which is the rate at which data is processed or transferred. The higher the bitrate, the better quality the music is when you listen to it. 

For example, Apple Music tops out at 256 Kbps (kilobits per second), while Spotify Premium gets up to 320 Kbps. Most services allow you to change the quality setting, based on your subscription type and how you’re listening to the music (e.g. over Wi-Fi or a mobile network). 

In terms of data usage, 320 Kbps translates to approximately 2.40 MB per minute of audio or 115.2 MB per hour. So, streaming music for an entire 8-hour workday would chew through nearly 1 GB of data. 

Each Streaming Service Is Different

When it comes to the individual music streaming services, each one has slightly different quality rates. For some, it’s because of the music file types they use; for others, it’s based on the subscription level for each customer.

How Much Data Does Pandora Use?
Pandora Free: Wi-Fi streams music at 128 Kpbs and will use approximately 60-70 MB per hour.
Pandora Free: Mobile data streams music at 64 Kpbs automatically and will use roughly 30 MB per hour.
Pandora Plus or Premium: Wi-Fi or mobile data uses 192 Kbps automatically and will use approximately 90 MB per hour.

Any paid Pandora account has a choice of low (32 Kpbs), standard (64 Kpbs), and high (192 Kpbs) quality streaming no matter how you’re listening. It defaults to high quality unless otherwise changed.  

How Much Data Does Spotify Use?

Spotify offers different streaming quality options based on the listener subscription level, rather than the device they’re listening to. Both free and premium accounts have automatic, low, normal, and high streaming levels, while premium gets a “very high” option on top of that.

No matter if you’re listening through your desktop, smartphone, or tablet, Spotify’s streams music at:

Automatic (free & premium): Spotify will adjust your streaming quality based on your network connection. 
Low (free & premium): Streams music at 24 Kbps and will use approximately 90 MB per hour (or 0.09 GB per hour).
Normal (free & premium): Streams music at 96 Kbps and will use approximately 345 MB per hour (or 0.35 GB per hour).
High (free & premium): Streams music at 160 Kbps and will use approximately 576 MB per hour (or 0.6 GB per hour).
Very high (premium only): Streams music at 320 Kbps and will use approximately 1.2 GB per hour.
How Much Data Does Amazon Music Use?

Amazon hasn’t officially revealed the streaming quality of their Music service available for Prime members or the separate Amazon Music Unlimited. The general consensus online is the audio quality options range from 48 Kbps to 320 Kbps, depending on the the streaming quality. Listeners can choose the quality option based on how they’re listening, which is suitable for times when you’re listening on mobile networks.

At the low end, you’d use approximately 175 MB or 0.175 GB per hour, while on the high end, you’d use approximately 1.2 GB per hour.

How Much Data Does Apple Music Use?  

Unlike the other music streaming services, Apple Music streams at 256 Kbps no matter how you listen, meaning you’d use approximately 1 GB per hour.

How Much Music Can You Stream on Your Data Plan?

Based on the previous information, here’s how much data you’d use on a variety of plans. 

On a 2 GB mobile data plan, you could stream up to:

47 hours of low-quality music
28 hours of normal-quality music
17 hours of high-quality music

On a 5 GB mobile data plan, you could stream up to:

117 hours of low-quality music
70 hours of normal-quality music
42.5 hours of high-quality music

On a 10 GB mobile data plan, you could stream up to:

234 hours of low-quality music
140 hours of normal-quality music
85 hours of high-quality music
Strategies & Tools to Manage Data Usage

Unless you’ve got unlimited mobile data on your smartphone plan, you’ll want to learn how to manage your music streaming data usage. 

Stream Only Over Wi-Fi. The first option is to only stream music when connected to Wi-Fi. Besides the data usage savings you’ll enjoy, Wi-Fi signals tend to be more robust, so you won’t suffer from signal degradation and low-quality bitrates. Internet service providers may still optimize your bandwidth, but not to the same degree as your wireless company. 

Upgrade Your Music Streaming Account. Some, like Pandora and Spotify, offer higher quality bitrates to paid listeners, but they also offer more listening options. Customize your playlists, download songs or entire albums, and more, with your paid account. 

Set Your Streaming App to Offline Listening. Most music streaming services offer the option to download audio content for offline listening. This is perfect for times when you’re unable to connect to Wi-Fi or a mobile internet network to stream in real-time. 

Depending on the service you’re using and the subscription level you have, you’ll be able to download different audio content. For example, Pandora makes certain content eligible for downloading, while Spotify lets you download up to 10,000 songs. Most services also require you to maintain your subscription to continue listening to the music you’ve downloaded. Once your subscription expires, the songs are removed from your account/app. 

Use a Data Management App. For mobile device users, there are data management apps you can install to monitor your data usage. They’ll monitor your usage, then notify you before you run out of data. A few data management apps to consider are:

My Data Manager (Android and iOS)
RadioOpt Traffic Monitor (Android and iOS)
Data Usage (Android and iOS)
DataMan Next (iOS)
Glasswire Data Usage Monitor (Android)

Track Usage on Your Mobile Provider App. The final strategy to monitor your data usage is to use your mobile service provider’s app. Most of them offer the ability to track your data usage in real-time through their apps, as well as send you notifications once you reach predetermined usage levels. For example, T-Mobile sends a text message at 80 percent and 100 percent usage of any service (text, voice, or data), while Sprint sends a message for most plans at 75 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent usage of any service. Check with your mobile provider to download their branded app.

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