Spotify HiFi is still MIA after three years, and now so is my subscription

An illustration of the Spotify logo surrounded by noise lines in white, purple, and green.
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to do this again. Last year, it seemed like there was no reason to believe Spotify would ever roll out its long-delayed HiFi lossless streaming feature, which was announced in 2021 and then never mentioned again. But then, one of the company’s co-presidents kept hope alive, telling my colleague Alex Heath “we are going to do it.”

That was in March 2023. And now here we find ourselves, three years and one day after Spotify HiFi’s buzzy original announcement, and still nothing. Like always, there are signs that the company is continuing to work on HiFi — although it’s unlikely to be called that anymore. And unlike rival services, you’re likely going to have to pay a lot more for it, whenever it actually arrives.

The current presumption is that high-resolution and lossless streaming will be packaged into an upcoming, more expensive “Supremium” tier that will include a slew of other exclusive perks; we’ve even seen Spotify’s branding for the plan. Many people constantly hammer on the point that it’s hard for the average listener to tell any difference between lossless audio and the compressed music that Spotify is already providing. So the company clearly understands that it needs to piece together a much more compelling bundle for a higher-priced subscription to have any shot at success.

None of that really answers the overarching question, though: what the hell’s taking so long? It’s believed that Spotify was caught totally flat-footed when Apple and Amazon both started giving customers higher-fidelity audio at no extra cost, and that its own deals with labels didn’t make it financially viable for the leading streaming music service to do the same. Unlike its competitors, Spotify doesn’t have other divisions to help recoup the cost of an aggressive play like that, which I completely understand. But I’ve got to believe that lossless audio has been factored into any deals that the company has agreed upon more recently.

It’s obvious that the Spotify team loves music. The service’s recommendation algorithms are always on point and have come to nail down my taste through years of listening data. My daylists are consistently good, and I’ve even been pleasantly surprised with what the app’s AI DJ serves up when I’m feeling lazy.

But I’m also an audio nerd who owns a handful of very nice headphones and earbuds. And sometimes I just want to plug in my USB-C dongle, lay on the couch, and truly sink into a new album. And it’s those moments where I’m inevitably disappointed with Spotify, because I know what I’m hearing isn’t the best it can be. I’m paying for an objectively inferior listening experience. Well, I was. A couple months ago, I got tired of waiting, so I let my longtime Spotify subscription lapse and purchased a year’s worth of Apple Music.

Knowing my luck, Spotify could announce its Supremium plan mere weeks from now at its Stream On event — if it holds one this year — right after I bailed on my account. And if it does, depending on what else is thrown in, there’s a very good chance I’ll resubscribe. That’s doubly true if the more expensive plan means even slightly better payouts for artists. Apple Music feels a lot cleaner and more focused than the hybrid music / podcasts destination that Spotify has become. But it doesn’t get me quite as well. Maybe that’ll change over the course of this yearlong plan. Judging by history, I’ll have some time to give it a chance.