As another year comes to a close, it’s always important to sit back, take stock of how far you’ve come and hold yourself accountable to your promises. In that spirit, we have one question: Spotify, where the hell is the HiFi streaming tier that you teased way back in February?
First teased during Spotify’s “Stream On” event earlier this year, Hi-Fi was announced as a new, paid tier for premium subscribers that would offer CD-quality, lossless audio on the platform for the first time. During the event, the feature was heralded by Spotify as “one of the most requested new features” by users, and slated for a release in select markets “later this year.” The platform also made vague claims about teaming up with “some of the world’s biggest speaker manufacturers” to ensure that HiFi is “accessible to as many fans as possible.”
If you don’t remember all that fanfare, it’s certainly not for lack of trying: Spotify promoted the hell out of the promised feature, even trotting out Billie Eilish and Finneas to talk about how important high fidelity audio is to their creative process.
Before the feature disappeared from our sightline entirely, there were some subtle clues that its release date might have been nearing. In May, some users started reporting a glitchy “HiFi” icon in Spotify’s app, but that ultimately turned out to be nothing. Then, in August, an onboarding video for the feature leaked online—surely a sign that its release was imminent?
But lo, the year has all but ended, and HiFi is still not HereYet. What gives?
Broken promises aside, lossless audio is kind of the biggest deal there is for a certain niche community of audiophiles, and its omission from Spotify’s platform is glaring at this point—particularly considering the fact that it’s currently offered by some of the platform’s biggest competitors, including Apple Music and Tidal. In fact, as The Verge points out, that might actually be what’s causing the holdup: By beating Spotify to the draw and offering lossless playback on its own service at no extra charge, Apple Music has essentially wiped out Spotify’s financial incentive to launch a paid tier.
But then again, it’s always possible Spotify is still fine-tuning the feature and planning for a 2022 or release, hoping that we won’t notice the missed deadline. In any case, it seems like it’s probably a good time to get Billie Eilish on the phone so she can tell us how we’re even supposed to think about enjoying “Happier Than Ever” with this inferior sound quality.