The Plot Thickens: Spotify Is Quietly Rolling Out a Music-Only Tier Amid Continued Bundling Controversy

spotify music only tier
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spotify music only tier
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Spotify is moving forward with plans to roll out a music-only tier. Photo Credit: Alexander Shatov

Following price increases in the U.S. and the U.K. – and against the backdrop of a stateside battle over bundling – Spotify is quietly rolling out a music-only tier.

Reports of this latest Spotify plan just recently began surfacing in the U.K., though as we noted in April, a music-only offering has been in the works for some time. “You should also expect to see a music-only tier as well,” CEO Daniel Ek spelled out of forthcoming plans during Spotify’s Q1 earnings call.

Building on that point (and Spotify’s increasingly difficult-to-track plan and cost adjustments across its many markets), a little-viewed screenshot posted to Twitter/X on May 16th shows the music-only “Basic Individual” option in question. Having evidently flown under the radar until now, the screenshot is factoring prominently into ongoing coverage.

With Spotify’s joint audiobook-music solo plan priced at £11.99 per month in the U.K. (and $11.99 in the U.S.), the Basic Individual alternative costs £1 less, the screenshot shows. Ad-free listening is still part of the package, of course, but the image emphasizes that there are “no included audiobook listening hours.” (The £11.99 option, like its stateside counterpart, has 15 hours of monthly audiobook listening baked in.)

For bargain hunters with little interest in audiobooks (as well as music fans who get their audiobooks elsewhere), the discount may prove appealing.

Notwithstanding the screenshot and indications of a partial music-only launch, the timetable associated with a wider rollout – and a debut for the U.S. and European markets – is unclear. According to one source, customers can expect the tier, which didn’t appear to be listed on the main Spotify U.K. plans list at the time of writing, to hit the U.S. and U.K. platforms alike “soon.”

Also unclear is whether the music-only option will be displayed directly alongside existing packages such as Duo and Family, which have already attracted millions of subscribers. Based on the description provided by the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) in its lawsuit against Spotify, the States’ $9.99-per-month audiobook-only plan is tucked away on the service, separate from well-established plans.

As many know, that lawsuit centers on alleged royalty underpayments from Spotify, which, in opting to classify its main packages as bundles, will seemingly pay far less in annual U.S. mechanicals. Spotify has defended the pivot and successfully requested additional time to respond to the MLC’s complaint.

From a strategic perspective, embracing a music-only package – and possibly additional tiers yet – could benefit Spotify as it plots a defense against the MLC action. Bigger picture, it can safely be said that the days of nearly uniform prices across various music streaming platforms, besides extremely similar core offerings, are in the rearview.