Spotify is still planning to launch HiFi audio after all

It's been two years since Spotify announced plans to introduce high-quality audio for subscribers. So where is it? — Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa

STOCKHOLM: It's taken two years, but Spotify appears to at last be coming close to launching HiFi audio for subscribers, and the company has reaffirmed its plans to launch higher quality streaming at some point.

"We are going to do it, but we're going to do it in a way where it makes sense for us and for our listeners," product chief Gustav Söderström said on a podcast from tech news website The Verge.

The audio streaming giant announced Spotify Hifi in early 2021 and originally planned to launch it as part of a more expensive subscription by the end of the year.

But then rivals Apple and Amazon began offering higher-quality music streaming at no extra cost, undermining Spotify's effort to charge extra for HiFi.

"The industry changed and we had to adapt," Söderström said, explaining the absence of HiFi without giving details on when or how it might launch.

But he did hint that Spotify may not be giving it away for free, and said "we want to do it in a way where it works for us from a cost perspective as well."

Spotify's rivals have since also pulled ahead with 3D audio in Dolby Atmos format, a feature still missing from Spotify. This immersive audio feature has emerged as a growing advantage for Apple Music, as Apple's AirPods contain the head-tracking technology needed for this listening experience.

Spatial audio is among the most requested features on Spotify since embedded lyrics, added last year, and Söderström declined to comment on spatial, saying only "I want to save that for later."

The Verge quoted sources close to Spotify as saying that the technical work to be able to offer music in better quality is largely complete.

Spotify is the largest provider in music streaming with 489 million users at last count. Of those, 205 million were paying subscription customers.

Apple Music, which does not have a free version, is considered the number two in the audio streaming market, but has not published user figures for years.

Spotify's founder and chief executive Daniel Ek also invested heavily in podcasts, which are intended to expand advertising revenue.

Earlier in March, Spotify added a TikTok-like vertical feed to its app, where users can swipe through new music, podcasts and audiobooks with short previews. – dpa

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