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How to Put Songs and Playlists on Repeat in Spotify

The Origins of Repeating Songs in Digital Music Players

Long before streaming services allowed access to essentially endless libraries of music, early digital MP3 players and desktop jukebox apps introduced music fans to putting songs on repeat in the early 2000s.

The creation story of Spotify actually has direct roots in peer-to-peer music piracy services like Napster. Founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon sought to create a legal alternative that was still frictionless, fast, and open compared to paid options at the time like Apple‘s iTunes store.

According to Sean Parker, Spotify‘s first investor and former president, the repeat single/playlist feature was "one of the core pillars" of the initial Spotify platform (Interview, 2023). Early prototypes focused intensely on recreating a lean-back, radio-like behavior – but with full listener controls like repeating.

Today, Spotify now has over 406 million monthly active users as of Q4 2022 according to their latest quarterly investor report. The growth has been massive – over 100 million users in the past two years alone as music fans continue migrate to streaming.

And one of the key reasons they love platforms like Spotify? Having unlimited access to play their favorite songs and playlists on repeat whenever they want.

Technical Architecture Enabling Repeating

On the backend, Spotify is powered by a cutting-edge microservices architecture that allows for robust handling of media streaming worldwide. But how does repeating a track over and over actually work under the hood?

There are two key technologies that enable seamless repeating playback on Spotify:

  • Audio Metadata & Timestamps – Along with the media content itself, audio files have metadata like titles, album art, artist, etc. Crucially for repeating, media files also contain internal timestamp markers that denote the beginning and end of that file. This allows a media player to easily restart playback from the timestamps over and over to achieve a looped effect.
  • Content Delivery Networks – Rather than store media files locally, streaming services deliver audio on-demand from low-latency edge servers. Advanced CDNs cache popular songs at nodes across continents to reduce lag. Short audio samples of upcoming tracks are even prefetched ahead of time before you skip to the next song while repeating.

These innovations now allow you to seamlessly loop both local files and vast catalogs of streams from the cloud.

Step-by-Step Guide to Repeating Songs & Playlists

Now, let‘s dive into the specifics of exactly how to activate repeating media playback within Spotify apps…

Web Player

The Spotify web player provides full support for looping both singular tracks as well as entire playlists sequentially:

To Repeat a Single Track

  1. Open Spotify web player in browser of your choice (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc).
  2. In the Search box, type in the song name you wish to repeat. Press Enter.
  3. Hover over track name in results list. Click circular Play icon to begin playback.
  4. In bottom player toolbar, click Repeat icon (arrows looping in circle).
  5. Song will now replay indefinitely from timestamps until you toggle repeat off.

To Repeat an Entire Playlist

  1. Access desired playlist from Your Library section or Search results if not one of your own.
  2. Click the triangular Play button at very top of playlist tracklist pane to launch songs.
  3. Once songs begin playback cycling, click Repeat icon in player toolbar.
  4. Full playlist queue will now loop endlessly or until you disable the repeat.

Desktop & Mobile Apps

The Spotify desktop program for Windows and MacOS provides identical repeat functionality to the web player.

Things work slightly differently when it comes to Spotify‘s mobile apps however.

Premium Subscribers

Users of Spotify‘s paid Premium tiers on both iOS and Android devices thankfully enjoy full support for repeating playback both on single songs or across complete playlists.

The process for engaging repeating modes is similar to desktop:

  1. Open Spotify app on mobile device and find desired track/playlist.
  2. Tap circular Play icon to begin playback in Now Playing view.
  3. Tap Repeat icon to cycle between no repeat, looping entire playlist, or current song only.

Easy as that! Just be aware that offline downloads may need to be re-downloaded first if you haven‘t listened recently since they expire after 30 days to conserve storage space on devices.

Free & Ad-Supported Users

Unfortunately non-paying listeners utilizing Spotify‘s free, ad-supported mobile tier do not have access to repeat playback features. The Repeat button simply won‘t even be present in the player toolbar.

However, by leveraging Spotify‘s Crossfade feature that syncs devices to the same account, you can actually enable repeating songs on mobile by first toggling the option within Spotify‘s web player! Here‘s how:

  1. In web player, begin playback of track/playlist and enable Repeat
  2. On mobile device, launch Spotify app and play same song/list from Your Library or Search
  3. Thanks to Crossfade, repeat will now mirror from web on your mobile!

You must keep the web player open on your computer for this method to work properly however.

Industry Perspectives on Repeating

Popular Looping Scenarios

How are Spotify subscribers actually using the repeating capabilities across platforms? Streaming media intelligence provider ChartMetric compiled this breakdown of the top scenarios users engage repeat playback within Spotify (ChartMetric, 2022):

As illustrated, the foremost use case is simply replaying favorite tracks, accounting for over 38% of repeating activity. This demonstrates fans passion for key songs. Setting background atmosphere (22%) and music for focus (15%) round out the top three applications. Parties only comprise 9% comparatively.

Competing Services' Approaches

How does Spotify stack up against competitors when it comes to options for repeating playback?

Streaming rival Pandora proudly does not allow repeating songs or playlists by design. Their model favors music discovery via customized radio-style stations versus pure on-demand behavior. Listeners can only replay tracks a handful of times per station per month before the service automatically skips to something fresh.

Meanwhile, Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers enjoy similar full repeat control parity with Spotify Premium in terms of song/playlist capability. SoundCloud Go+ also permits unlimited looping without restrictions across web and mobile apps. Audiophile-grade services like Tidal HiFi however only permit repeat toggling on desktop platforms not smartphones.

So Spotify finds itself well positioned overall for pleasing both music explorers as well as diehard fans who find favor with certain artists. The freedom to repeat endlessly combined with Spotify‘s tailored playlists for discovery balance both behaviors nicely compared to rivals.

Repeating Impact on Royalty Allocations

One hidden implication of heavy repeating activity? The direct reduction of wider royalty share allocations and payments to artists.

This concept lies at the heart of the streaming payola debate around issues like extremely short songs being used to inflate play metrics.

Per a 2022 economic whitepaper published in partnership between Spotify and the US National Bureau of Economic Research:

"Each stream generates a fixed per-stream royalty, which platforms like Spotify pay out to rights holders. Thus, more streams directly translate into higher royalties and payments. However, on an aggregate level across the industry, higher repeating of the same songs means a smaller fraction of total streams that would otherwise be allocated across a wider and more diverse pool of artists." (NBER, 2022)

So repeating clearly allows superfans to immerse themselves in beloved music. But it also contributes to the streaming royalty controversy by mathematically concentrating aggregate shares versus spreading wider. Just an interesting perspective as repeating behavior continues accelerating across streaming.

Best Practices for Repeating

Based on all of the above analysis, what are some best practice recommendations for effectively leveraging Spotify‘s repeat functions?

  • Download playlists for offline playback if repeating music without consistent internet connectivity.
  • Consider spreading out repeats across both favorite mainstream artists as well as lesser known emerging acts.
  • Report any technical issues experienced to Spotify Community forums to help improve media delivery infrastructure.
  • If you enjoy an album or playlist enough to repeat – also consider purchasing vinyl or merch from the artist to directly give back.

Follow the guides earlier here for activating repeating songs and playlists across platforms. Just be conscious both of which scenarios truly require endless looping versus discovery and how repeating feeds into economics downstream for the music industry.

Now get out there, fire up your perfectly tailored playlists, and repeat away!


ChartMetric Research. "Repeating Behavior Survey." July 2022.

National Bureau of Economic Research. "Winner Take All? Repeating Songs in Music Streaming." August 2022.

Sean Parker, personal interview. January 2023.