Two years in the past, Apple did an enormous end-run round Spotify when it introduced plans to shift its complete catalog right into a lossless music format — and to take action at no additional cost.
It was a transfer that upended the whole world of music streaming providers and clearly spoiled Spotify’s ambitions to launch its personal Hello-Fi service. Solely three months earlier, Spotify had introduced its new HiFi lossless streaming tier, promising it might arrive by the tip of 2021. But, on the finish of December 2021, the whole Apple Music catalog was out there in Lossless Audio, and Spotify HiFi was lacking in motion.
When Spotify HiFi was first revealed in February 2021, everyone anticipated it might be a premium tier that might value additional. In spite of everything, different streaming providers reminiscent of Amazon and Tidal had been already providing higher-quality codecs and charging as a lot as $10/month extra for purchasers who needed to take pleasure in the very best high quality.
As an illustration, Amazon Music HD arrived in 2019 for $15/month — $5 greater than the usual Amazon Music Limitless Plan. Though Prime Members might get $2/month off both plan, the unfold between them remained the identical. When Tidal launched in 2014, high-resolution audio was one of many distinguishing traits of the service, however clients needed to pay $20/month for the privilege of totally lossless listening, in comparison with the usual $10/month Tidal plan.
Then Apple got here alongside and ruined their enjoyable. As an alternative of making an attempt to upsell loyal clients with an Apple Music premium plan, the corporate that pioneered digital music gross sales pulled one other rabbit out of its hat by providing its complete catalog in lossless audio on the identical plan that clients had been already on.
As Apple steadily upgraded tens of millions of tracks over a six-month interval, Apple Music subscribers gained lossless audio routinely, with out the necessity to even change an account setting, a lot much less pay for a premium account.
Amazon pivoted so quick that we nearly received whiplash. The exact same day that Apple introduced its new lossless initiative, Amazon eradicated its higher-priced HD tier, bringing its 70 million lossless audio tracks to all Amazon Music subscribers.
What Turned of Spotify Hello-Fi
As Amazon moved to shortly embrace the brand new actuality of lossless music for all, Spotify received very, very quiet. Clearly, the corporate’s executives knew that they had been in a pickle. Even when they had been to forge forward with a premium Spotify Hello-Fi tier, saying such a factor within the aftermath of the large adjustments from Apple and Amazon would go over like a lead balloon.
Nonetheless, in March, Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström informed The Verge that the streaming firm was nonetheless engaged on “some form of lossless expertise” however didn’t have a lot else to say about it aside from saying the corporate’s plans had been delayed as a result of “the trade modified for a bunch of causes.”
Proof means that Spotify had labored out all of the technical and licensing preparations to launch its HiFi tier on schedule. The tracks had been already encoded, contracts had been signed, and a few workers had even been having fun with the higher-quality tier for months.
When pressed for particulars, Söderström would solely say, “We need to do it in a method the place it really works for us from a price perspective as effectively. I’m not allowed to touch upon our label agreements, nor on what different gamers within the trade did, for apparent causes.”
Studying between the strains, plainly Spotify has been crunching the numbers to determine how you can justify charging extra for lossless audio in a market the place will probably be the exception to the brand new norm. Now, it appears it could have discovered the reply.
A brand new report by Ashley Carman at Bloomberg reveals that Spotify plans to roll out a dearer subscription tier that may bundle “high-fidelity audio” with a couple of different perks.
Dubbed “Supremium” internally, in accordance with individuals conversant in the technique, the brand new tier might be Spotify’s costliest plan and sure provide a HiFi characteristic the corporate first introduced it was engaged on in 2021. Spotify delayed that product’s rollout after two of its opponents, Apple Music and Amazon Music, started providing the characteristic without spending a dime as a part of their normal plans. The brand new tier will launch this yr in non-US markets first.Ashley Carman, Bloomberg
It’s not clear what these different advantages might be. Nonetheless, the report notes that Spotify may also improve its present $10/month “Premium” tier by offering entry to audiobooks, that are at present solely bought by way of its app. The brand new plan is to offer subscribers both “a selected variety of hours free per thirty days or a selected variety of titles,” and Spotify might set its “Supremium” plan aside by providing larger limits for audiobook listening.
Each the brand new “Supremium” tier and the expanded Premium options will launch outdoors the US first, though Spotify expects to have the audiobooks out there to US Premium subscribers in October.
It’s additionally value noting that whereas Apple and Amazon have each not too long ago elevated their subscription costs by a greenback, touchdown at $11/month, Spotify remains to be charging the identical $10 month-to-month payment that it has been since its US launch. Nonetheless, Carman notes that Spotify did enhance costs in additional than 40 different markets final yr, so it could quickly be compelled to do the identical within the US.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]