Spotify has announced a HiFi version of its service that will allow users to stream music in high-fidelity audio formats later this year. The announcement came during Spotify’s Stream On event on Monday (Feb 22), which highlighted the platform’s impact on the music industry over the past 15 years, and featured a slew of new product announcements.
CEO Daniel Ek was joined by chief content officer and advertising business officer Dawn Ostroff and co-heads of music Jeremy Erlich and Marian Dicus at the event, which included announcements of new global markets for Spotify, upcoming podcasts from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, a new multi-year podcasting deal with Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and the HiFi subscription offering.
Spotify will become the biggest streaming service to announce a high-fidelity tier, following Amazon Music HD’s rollout in September 2019. Outside of Amazon, high-fidelity streaming audio has been limited to smaller platforms like Qobuz, Tidal, and Deezer. Spotify has not released additional details around the audio quality of its HiFi offering, or how much it will cost.
Spotify spent nearly an equal amount of time on music and podcasting during the event, a signal of how it sees the company moving forward. “We’re committed to building the world’s leading audio platform,” Dawn Ostroff said before announcing a slew of new podcasts.
While the company may have a new focus compared to where it began 15 years ago as a pure music service, Spotify started the event highlighting how its algorithms have helped promote artists outside of their home markets and push users to discover new artists. “On Spotify, artists from Latin trap, South African house, or even classical find more than 80% of their streams outside of their home country,” Ostroff said.
Erlich said Spotify adds over 60,000 new songs to its platform every day and has added 76,000 artists to its playlists for the first time, noting that its algorithms are powering a new level of discovery for users that wasn’t possible before.
“We’re helping fans discover artists that they’ve never heard before, 16 billion times a month,” he said.
Spotify chief r&d officer Gustav Söderström spoke about the company’s expanded machine learning capabilities, which is bringing new features like better search and algorithmic playlists to users. The company is expanding its Daily Mix playlist offerings, bringing mixes around genres, artists and decades, to users in the coming months. Topical podcast searches — currently being tested in the US and rolling out globally soon — will allow users to search for something like “cooking” and find related shows.
Spotify also said it will begin an accelerated expansion globally, a move that will give Spotify access to 1 billion more people across 80 new markets and 36 new languages.
“We’ll be expanding Spotify’s global footprint significantly,” Ek said. “This move will make Spotify available to more than a billion people in new markets around the world, with nearly half of them already using the internet.”
Spotify chief freemium business officer Alex Norström said some markets will launch with “a core library of content and features that will evolve over time,” a signal that the company has not completed licensing deals for all its new markets globally.
The event also featured a slew of artists discussing their success on the platform, including J. Balvin and Khalid, BLACKPINK, Billie Eilish and Finneas, and Halsey.
Spotify made sure to focus on artist-centric features like Canvas, which allows acts to make looping visuals for individual songs. Canvas, which was limited before, will be available to all Spotify artists moving forward. Spotify for Artists will be available in 25 new languages, the company added, and Spotify Clips, effectively a stories feature on Spotify that allows artists to share behind-the-scenes content with their fans, will also be available soon.