In a nutshell: Spotify may finally be ready to launch a new premium subscription tier that includes access to high-fidelity audio. Sources familiar with Spotify's plans told Bloomberg the new plan, which will be the company's most expensive to date, will also include limited access to audiobooks as a secondary perk. It is unclear how the streaming giant will handle this, but it'll likely materialize either as a set number of free listening hours per month or access to a predetermined number of titles.
Spotify's audiobook business is separate from its streaming music effort, meaning books are sold a la carte and are not part of a subscription model.
The Swedish streaming service has been working on a HiFi offering for many years. In early 2021, the company said the service would debut later that year and offer CD-quality music. As Spotify was finalizing launch plans, however, rivals Apple and Amazon threw a monkey wrench into the mix by offering high-fidelity audio to their subscribers at no extra cost.
Spotify seemingly wanted HiFi to drive more revenue but with other services now offering the perk for free, that was no longer viable. The company reined in launch plans and went back to the drawing board. How could they charge more for HiFi and placate investors without directly charging for a feature that the competition is giving away for free?
Bloomberg's report suggests bundling HiFi with limited audiobook access could be the answer.
In the US, a single-user Spotify Premium account goes for $9.99 per month, a two-user account commands $12.99, and a family plan will set you back $15.99 per month. Students can score an account at a discounted rate of $4.99 a month. Subscribers interested in HiFi might be willing to pay a few bucks extra per month for the perk but something like double probably won't fly. As always, pricing will be key.
Sources claim Spotify will launch its new tier later this year in non-US markets first before rolling it out stateside in October.