Lyrics on Spotify could become a premium-only feature in company's new test

Sep 6, 2023
Music and Video

Spotify is testing a change in its free-tier. The music streaming service wants to make lyrics as a premium-only feature.

To recall, Spotify added support for lyrics in November 2021, and proudly touted it as a feature that was available to all free and premium users across all platforms. So why is it taking it away from the free plan?

Money, of course, what else? Spotify's numbers are growing steadily, it has over 551 million users per month, of which 220 million are premium subscribers. That is probably the issue, the company is adding more free users than those willing to pay for the service. The music streaming platform has invested in podcasts and audiobooks to improve its subscriber count, but it has not been very effective. It even added an AI-powered DJ for playlist which acts like a radio station host.

When trying to access the in-app lyrics section, some users began seeing a message that reads, "Enjoy lyrics on Spotify Premium" along with a link to sign up for the paid plan. Naturally, people were displeased by the change.

According to a statement that Spotify's co-head of global communications, CJ Stanley, sent to The Verge, the company is testing the change before rolling it out to all users. Only a limited number of users are seeing the option that asks them to sign up to view lyrics. It is unclear which markets are impacted by the change. For what it's worth, lyrics still work for me.

There are two ways to look at this change. Spotify's subscribers won't be upset by it. In the company's point-of-view, it has a business to run, the service isn't provided for free, and Spotify uses lyrics from Musixmatch, which it has to compensate the lyrics provider for. Of course, one might argue that the free-tier isn't completely free if it is ad-supported.

The point is, when you take away a feature that was once available for free and lock it behind a paywall, people are going to get mad. YouTube faced backlash from users when it tried to make 4K videos a premium-exclusive feature, and eventually had to cancel the test. That is probably why Spotify hasn't made the change on a broader scale, the company wants to test it and see how users react. If there is too much negative feedback, it can probably call it a day, and cancel the test. But if it results in users getting a premium subscription, then the feature could become exclusive to the premium tier for all users.

Personally, I don't think making lyrics a premium-only feature is enough for Spotify to convince free users to start subscribing to the service. They'll either switch to a different provider that may offer the feature, or simply look up lyrics on the browser, or use an app like Musixmatch that does the job for free. On the other hand, adding support for lossless quality might improve the company's finances. Spotify is said to be working on a "Supremium plan", this new plan could launch this year, and is said to offer HiFi audio at a more expensive price than the premium plan.

Like many streaming services have done recently, Spotify too increased its prices in many countries including the U.S. The Premium Individual plan which was formerly $9.99 / month now costs $10.99. Premium Duo is now $14.99 up from $12.99. The Premium Family plan price was increased from $15.99 to $16.99, and the Premium Student tier increased from $4.99 to $5.99.

Lyrics on Spotify could become a premium-only feature in company's new test
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Lyrics on Spotify could become a premium-only feature in company's new test
Spotify is testing the removal of lyrics from its free plan.
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