Spotify HiFi is Delayed Indefinitely
The announcement of Spotify Hifi in February 2021 was likely to shake up the streaming industry.
By creating lossless audio, Spotify could boost its credibility among audiophiles who are no longer just informal listeners.
Even if most people can not tell the difference between lossless and high-bitrate compressed tracks, this suggests that Spotify is more interested in good sound.
At the time, Spotify stated that HiFi could be released “later this year” and that there could be “more information on percentages soon.” But the new year has already started and there is no sign of Spotify HiFi yet. I think I know why.
A few days ago, the company made one of its first statements about lossless music since its authentic declaration.
Unfortunately, it was not a fitting piece of information. Instead, Spotify has made an exchange on its network boards that suggests HiFi I will not be launching anytime soon.
“We know HiFi nice audio is important to you. We feel the same way and look forward to offering premium customers a Spotify HiFi experience in the future. But we can not give any timelines yet.”
In other words, the feature will appear eventually, but the fact that Spotify is not even able to give an exact timeline for its arguably most anticipated feature does not seem to fit.
Unless Spotify is keeping a low profile, “in the future” does not necessarily mean “soon.” We reached out to Spotify for comment on this new feature, but have not received a response as of press time.
So why the nearly year-long silence?
If you ask me, there’s at least one possible explanation: Spotify was caught off guard by Apple and Amazon both offering lossless tracks at no extra charge in May, and had to rethink its hi-fi strategy.
First of all, I must clarify that this whole article is a hypothesis and opinion, and there is a possibility that I am completely wrong. I am not invoking insider knowledge now, just connecting the dots.
But the way I see it, the dots are not too hard to connect.
When Spotify introduced its HiFi tier, they were sure it would have a better price than the Premium tier. As far as I know, the company did not explicitly say there might be a fee increase, but it was defined as “upload-on,” which is what the language recommended:
“Starting later this year, premium subscribers in select markets will be able to enhance their sound on Spotify HiFi and hear their favorite songs the way the artists intended.”
The company also promised that tracks will be available in CD -nice, which typically means 16-bit choices with a sampling rate of 44.1kHz.
The word “can improve” suggests that this is an optionally available improvement. In any case, this is the norm at this time, as lossless streaming offerings typically cost $15-20 dollars per month, as opposed to the $9.99/month common for well-known streaming titles.
But then Amazon and Apple introduced that they could offer lossless music with high resolution up to 24-bit/192kHz for the same $9.99 as Spotify Premium ($7.99 for Amazon Prime subscribers).
Suddenly, charging more for hi-fi audio seemed silly.
(Mind you, I think paying more for your music is a good thing if the money goes back to the artists, but I have written about that elsewhere).
Imagine you were in Spotify’s position, planning a big launch of your new lossless track tier. Best of all, examine that the most effective companies within the world simply undercut your pricing strategy significantly. In reality, I would not be surprised if Spotify found out about Apple’s and/or Amazon’s plans to some degree earlier than HiFi.
But here is the thing: Even if Spotify planned to make HiFi a loose improvement, it might have been a relatively vulnerable deal; Spotify promised audio up to 16-bit/44.1 kHz at best, now not the high-resolution 24-bit/192 kHz tracks of the competition.
You can assume that if Spotify were targeting high-resolution music, its advertising and marketing departments might have considered it from the start.
In addition, Apple and Amazon’s $9.99 plans now offer Spatial Audio. When done right, Spatial Audio has a far more noticeable quality effect than lossless ever could. But Spotify has yet to announce any plans for Spatial Audio on Spotify HiFi.
Spatial Audio increases the intensity and peak of your track for a more immersive experience, especially if the track was created specifically for Spatial Audio.
To make a long story short: Spotify’s initial promise for HiFi has become audio enhancement with fewer choices and fewer features than the competition, and for potentially more money.
If my suspicions are correct, the launch of Spotify HiFi as initially envisioned would have been downright gruesome in light of Apple and Amazon’s announcements.
The postponement is a shame for audiophiles who have remained loyal to Spotify, but the good news is that I expect that persistence to be rewarded.
While we were previously promised an improvement from CD -nice audio, I’d now be really surprised if Spotify HiFi did not include high-res tracks up to 24-bit/192kHz and some forms of spatial audio. Who knows, maybe there will be some bigger freebies as well.
Either way, you can be sure that Spotify HiFi will have more to offer at launch than if Apple and Amazon had stopped throwing down the gauntlet.
That’s it. Your fact visualization is done.
Enjoy finding out how often you listen to tracks, which tracks and artists you listen to most often, and which languages you opt for in terms of tracks.