The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Apple ruined Spotify’s plan for high-quality audio tier

The Milan office of streaming audio service Spotify.
The Milan office of streaming audio service Spotify. (Handout photo courtesy Spotify, Graphic by The Desk)

A plan by streaming music service Spotify to introduce a more-expensive tier with higher-quality audio streams was spoiled last year when Apple decided to include lossless music as part of their base subscription, according to a report published this week.

On Tuesday, tech website The Verge said Spotify’s higher-fidelity tier, called Spotify HiFi, has been ready to go for over a year, with the key technical components mostly ironed out.

The plan called for Spotify to introduce its HiFi plan toward the end of 2021, with users paying more for access to better quality music. But that plan was put on indefinite hold after Apple said it would offer lossless audio streams and downloads in Apple Music at no extra costs to customers.

At the time, Apple charged $10 a month for a subscription to Apple Music — the same price Spotify charged for access to its service. Since then, Apple has raised the price of its service by $1, but lossless audio is still included in its base subscription plan. Apple and Spotify’s chief competitor in the space, Amazon, has also introduced high-fidelity audio streams and downloads as part of Apple Music.

Apple and Amazon’s decision to offer high-quality music streams largely ruined Spotify’s plan to upcharge for the same feature. A Spotify executive told The Verge the company is still committed to releasing a HiFi plan at some point in the future, but no one will offer a concrete timeline.

While Spotify won’t say when the HiFi plan is coming, the company’s CEO affirmed its $10-a-month price point is not tenable over the long term. To that end, Spotify intends to raise the price of its subscription at some point this year, though it’s not clear when this will happen or how much customers will be asked to pay.