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What just happened? Spotify has been working on a HiFi tier for years. Launch windows have come and gone with no explanation. What's really going on behind the scenes? In a recent interview with The Verge, Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström provided a bit of clarity.
Söderström said a lossless experience is still on the way. "We announced it, but then the industry changed for a bunch of reasons," the executive noted, adding that they are still going to roll it out but will do so in a way that makes sense for them and their listeners.
"The industry changed and we had to adapt" Söderström said.
The publication pressed Söderström for details about the aforementioned industry changes but he refused to comment on what other players in the industry have done lately.
According to The Verge's sources, Spotify HiFi has been ready and waiting in the staging lanes for over a year. All of the technical details have been ironed out and Spotify's entire catalog has been converted to lossless. Spotify employees even reportedly have access to HiFi, and the company even said in early 2021 that the service would launch later that year.
Spotify originally planned to offer HiFi as a more expensive tier but Apple threw a monkey wrench into the mix when it started offering lossless to Apple Music subscribers in the summer of 2021. Amazon's highest tier is also available to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers with no added cost.
Reading between the lines, it seems clear that Spotify still intends to charge a premium for HiFi (otherwise, it would have been launched already). Perhaps they will bundle it with additional features like spatial audio / Dolby Atmos or mix in some podcast or audiobook extras to make it more compelling. But with competing services now offering lossless at no extra charge, Spotify seemingly knows it can't ask customers to pay more for better quality when rivals aren't.
The big question at this point still remains: when will Spotify launch HiFi? Söderström would not say, only noting that it is coming at some point.
Image credit: Headphones by Lee Campbell, Mixer by Drew Patrick Miller