Spotify Hifi’s announcement in February of 2021 appeared poised to shake up the streaming business. With the introduction of lossless audio, Spotify would enhance its credibility amongst audiophiles, not simply informal listeners. Even when most individuals can’t inform the distinction between lossless and high-bitrate compressed music, it indicated Spotify was paying extra consideration to sound high quality.
On the time, Spotify stated that HiFi would launch “later this 12 months” and that it could have “extra particulars to share quickly.” But we’ve began a complete new 12 months, and Spotify HiFi continues to be nowhere to be seen.
Just a few days in the past, the corporate made one among its first feedback about lossless since its authentic announcement. Sadly, it wasn’t excellent news. As an alternative, Spotify supplied an replace on its neighborhood boards that means HiFi i isn’t near launching.
“We all know that HiFi high quality audio is essential to you. We really feel the identical, and we’re excited to ship a Spotify HiFi expertise to Premium customers sooner or later. However we don’t have timing particulars to share but.”
In different phrases, the characteristic will launch finally, however the truth that Spotify isn’t even in a position to present a tough timeline for arguably its most anticipated characteristic doesn’t look good. Until Spotify is being coy, “sooner or later” isn’t prone to imply “quickly.” We reached out to Spotify for touch upon this replace however had not heard again by the point of publication.
So why the near-year-long silence? In case you ask me, there’s not less than one seemingly rationalization: Spotify was caught off-guard by Apple and Amazon each saying lossless music at no extra price in Could, and needed to scramble to rethink its hifi technique.
First issues first, I wish to clarify that this complete article is theory and opinion, and there’s each risk I could possibly be flat out incorrect. I’m not sourcing any insider data, simply connecting the dots. However from the place I’m standing, these dots aren’t too exhausting to attach.
When Spotify introduced its HiFi tier, it appeared all however sure it could include the next price ticket than its Premium tier. So far as I do know, the corporate didn’t explicitly say that there could be a value bump, however it was described as an “add-on” the language advised as a lot:
”Starting later this 12 months, Premium subscribers in choose markets will be capable to improve their sound high quality to Spotify HiFi and take heed to their favourite songs the best way artists meant.” The corporate additionally promised the music could be out there in CD-quality, which usually means 16-bit decision with a 44.1kHz pattern charge.
The entire “be capable to improve” bit is indicative that this is able to be an elective improve. In any case, on the time, this was the norm, as lossless streaming providers sometimes price $15-20 bucks a month, somewhat than the $9.99/mo typical of normal streaming music.
However then Amazon and Apple each introduced they might provide high-resolution lossless music, going all the best way as much as 24-bit/192kHz, for a similar $9.99 of lossy Spotify Premium ($7.99 for Amazon Prime subscribers).
Immediately, charging extra for hi-fi audio simply appeared foolish.
(Thoughts you, I do suppose paying extra on your music is an efficient factor if that cash goes again to the artists, however that’s a subject I’ve written about elsewhere.)
Think about you had been in Spotify’s place, planning a giant rollout of your new lossless music tier, solely to study that two of probably the most highly effective firms on the earth simply severely undercut your pricing technique. The truth is, I wouldn’t be stunned if Spotify had discovered of Apple and/or Amazon’s plans to some extent shortly earlier than saying HiFi, and that’s why it revealed so few particulars within the first place.
However right here’s the factor: even when Spotify did plan to make HiFi a free improve, it could have been a relatively weak deal; Spotify solely promised audio as much as 16-bit/44.1 kHz, not the high-res 24-bit/192 kHz tracks of its rivals. You may wager that if Spotify was aiming for high-res, its advertising would have mirrored that from the get-go.
Furthermore, Apple and Amazon’s $9.99 plans additionally now throw in spatial audio. When achieved proper, spatial audio can have a way more palpable optimistic influence than lossless ever may. However Spotify has by no means talked about plans for spatial audio alongside Spotify HiFi.
To recap: Spotify’s initially promise for HiFi was an audio improve with decrease decision and fewer options than the competitors, for what seemingly would have been extra money. If there’s any reality to my assumptions, launching Spotify HiFi because it was initially deliberate would have straight-up seemed unhealthy in gentle of Apple and Amazon’s bulletins.
The delay sucks for audiophiles who’ve remained loyal to Spotify, however the excellent news is I anticipate that endurance can be rewarded. Whereas earlier than we had been solely promised an improve to CD-quality audio, I’d now be actually stunned if Spotify HiFi’s eventual launch didn’t embrace high-res tracks as much as 24-bit/192kHz and a few type of spatial audio as effectively. Who is aware of, possibly there’ll even be some further freebies.
Regardless of the case, you possibly can make sure that when Spotify HiFi launches, it’ll be higher than it could have been had Apple and Amazon not thrown down the gauntlet.