After Disavowing Hi-Def Audio, Spotify Adds a HiFi Tier for Premium Subscribers

Spotify HiFi
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Spotify HiFi
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Photo Credit: Spotify

Spotify is now launching a new ‘Spotify HiFi’ tier as a premium add-on for subscribers, embracing lossless audio.

For years, Spotify has steered clear of the hi-definition audio space, arguing that most listeners are happy with current fidelity rates. Now, the company is shifting course and challenging rivals like Amazon, Qobuz, and Tidal head-on for the audiophile crowd.

The about-face comes as Spotify’s paid subscriber reaches 155 million, according to the company. That’s a 24% increase in new subscribers year-over-year. Apple Music has pulled ahead once or twice, but Spotify remains the most popular paid audio service in the world. The company is hoping its new HiFi premium add-on will help it maintain that lead.

During Spotify’s “Stream On” virtual event today, the company detailed several new features and changes.

Spotify says one of its most requested features from both artists and users is now higher-quality audio. “Spotify HiFi will deliver music in CD-quality, lossless audio format to your device and Spotify Connect-enabled speakers, which means fans will be able to experience more depth and clarity while enjoying their favorite tracks,” the company shared.

So how much will Spotify HiFi cost as a premium add-on? No details have been disclosed yet.

Spotify says the new feature will arrive in select markets later this year. The addition of lossless audio to Spotify pushes it ahead of Apple Music – which doesn’t offer HD audio. Services like the aforementioned TidalDeezer, Qobuz, and Amazon Music Unlimited have embraced lossless audio for some time.

Tidal even offers high-quality MQA masters-quality audio tracks. Apple has experimented with the “Mastered for iTunes” branding, but that content still isn’t AAC. That means it’s not lossless and doesn’t fully compete with other FLAC formats offered by rivals.

The Spotify HiFi premium add-on is just one of the new features announced by Spotify during today’s event.

Spotify is also bringing new tools to artists and users, like polls and Q&A functionality. Video support for podcasts, a partnership with WordPress to turn text into podcasts, and a complete redesign of the Library page were all detailed in the presentation. Spotify says it aims to reach over a billion new users by expanding into 80 new markets across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Spotify is also updating its Android app to make its library experience more intuitive. Users will start on a page that showcases playlists, artists, and albums in one feed. Previously, the app started with the playlist section open. For now, only some users are seeing the new library screen on Android. It appears to be a server-side rollout that will be happening in phases.

With Spotify jumping into the ring to offer HiFi audio, will Apple Music finally join in?