The music streaming wars centered around Apple Music and (the now TikTok-ifieid) Spotify have calcified in recent years. Apple has relied on its massive tech empire and close partnerships to try to edge Spotify out on streaming features, and team green is having trouble catching up. One of those features happens to be HiFi lossless audio. According to a new interview with a Spotify exec, the rival streaming platform is still refusing to share concrete lossless audio plans despite announcing HiFi features two years ago. Surely, that has nothing to do with Apple swooping in with much cheaper HiFi in the meantime.
In an interview on The Verge’s Decoder podcast, Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström promised the streaming service is still planning to release HiFi audio on the platform. It’s been over two years since Spotify first said it had lossless streaming ambitions, but Söderström said “the industry changed for a bunch of reasons.”
He further said “we’re going to do it in a way where it makes sense for us and for our listeners. The industry changed and we had to adapt.” All we know is that some vague kind of HiFi experience is supposedly coming “at some point.”
Early in 2021, Spotify announced it planned to launch a super premium tier for lossless audio, called Spotify HiFi. This “high-fidelity audio” was supposed to offer CD-quality sound that could potentially go up to a bitrate of around 1,411kbps, compared to the 160kbps for free users and 320kbps for Spotify Premium users. The company even got Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell to talk about just how great and “important” high quality audio is during the company’s “Stream On” event.
A year later, and the promised HiFi feature was still nowhere in sight. You see, that same year Apple Music released its own version of lossless streaming with Dolby Atmos, which came out with no additional cost for all subscribed users. Similarly, music streaming service Tidal released its own free subscription tier and introduced HiFi audio for paid subscribers at $10 a month, the same price as Spotify Premium. Both Tidal and Apple Music were running the CD bitrate of 1,411kbps.
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When The Verge pushed Söderström on whether the cause was because of labels charging more, he didn’t say Apple’s name, but he really doesn’t have to. Instead, the co-president said “I’m not allowed to comment on our label agreements, nor on what other players in the industry did, for obvious reasons.”
Now Spotify wants to do something that is “our own and unique,” Söderström said. He also didn’t comment on whether the platform was going to facilitate spatial audio, something that, again Apple has gotten ahead of Spotify on, even in upcoming separate apps like Apple Music Classical.