Spotify Tests Removing Lyrics From Free Tier, Sparks “Controversy”


Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, is currently conducting a test that has raised eyebrows among its free-tier users. In a move that could potentially affect millions of listeners, Spotify has locked down lyrics for select free users, displaying a message that reads, “Enjoy lyrics on Spotify Premium.” While the company claims this is “only a test,” the move has ignited speculation about its motives and implications for the future.

Key Takeaway

Spotify is testing the removal of lyrics for select free-tier users, causing controversy among its non-paying subscribers. The move indicates the company’s desire to boost its paid subscriptions and bridge the gap between free and premium users.

A Shift in Strategy?

The decision to withhold lyrics from non-paying users comes as Spotify’s user base continues to grow at an impressive rate. However, the growth of its paid subscribers is not keeping pace with the number of free listeners. This discrepancy has prompted the company to explore alternative methods of monetization, potentially by pushing certain features behind the paywall.

Spotify’s freemium model has been hailed as the future of the music industry, especially in the face of criticism from artists like Taylor Swift. However, the company has not devoted much attention to its free tier in recent years, with its last significant update dating back to 2018. With monthly users of its ad-supported tier growing by 34% over the past year to 343 million, Spotify needs to find ways to encourage more free users to make the switch to paid subscriptions.

Limited Test and Potential Ramifications

According to Spotify’s PR executive, CJ Stanley, the removal of lyrics for some free-tier users is currently being tested in a limited capacity and in specific markets. The company has not disclosed the exact reasons behind this test, leaving users and industry pundits speculating about its future implications. It remains to be seen whether this change will become permanent or if it is merely a “temperature check” for user response and engagement.

Despite the potential impact on users, lyrics are still widely available on other platforms and websites. Nevertheless, the move has sparked controversy among free listeners who already endure advertising interruptions in the hope of an enhanced music experience.

Looking Forward

As Spotify aims to increase its revenue and compete with rival Apple Music, it is clear that the company is seeking ways to bridge the gap between the number of free and paying users. While Spotify reported significant premium revenue of over €2.7 billion in Q2 2023, its ad-supported revenue during the same period amounted to just €404 million. The test to remove lyrics from the free tier, although met with some resistance, is likely a strategic move to encourage more users to upgrade to the premium subscription.

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