With Spotify stepping into the lossless music streaming market with Spotify HiFi, this begs the question, how much extra should listeners pay to download and stream higher quality audio?
While Spotify is yet to announce a price for Spotify HiFi, we can safely assume that it will be a tier above Spotify’s $10 per month Premium plan. This is a typical move that we’ve seen multiple other streaming competitors take, with the likes of Amazon Music HD and Deezer HiFi charging an extra $5 on top of their $10 per month Unlimited/Premium subscription fees, and TIDAL HiFi charging an extra $10 on top of their $10 per month Premium subscription fee. But should music streaming services charge anything at all over their current subscription fee for lossless audio?
Generally at around $10 per month, streaming services already offer a fantastic opportunity to access tens of millions of songs in an instant, an idea unimaginable 30 years ago, however shouldn’t improvements in technology come naturally over time? Take YouTube for example. Since launching 16 years ago, YouTube evolved to improve bitrate and support higher resolution uploads, such as 8K, 60fps and HDR videos without extra cost or more adverts, as technology naturally advanced. Which is particularly impressive when you realise YouTube has had little real competition pushing its advancements.
With higher bandwidth requirements from these streaming services, charging more per month currently makes sense, as they are offering something new. But are these services charging more due to their hardware constraints or as an easy way to make an extra buck? Looking back at the incredible technology improvements over the past 10+ years, sadly I believe it’s the latter.
Now that the most popular music streaming service is entering the hi-fi streaming market, this will undoubtedly encourage more streaming service such as Apple Music and YouTube Music to follow suit before too long. I think it will only take one major streaming service to offer lossless audio at no additional cost to see a ripple effect.
All of that being said, if Spotify HiFi launches for $15 per month and funnels every one of those extra $5 into the pockets of musicians, I will praise the streaming service.