Spotify could remove one of its best features for non-subscribers

Spotify app on a smartphone next to a pair of true wireless earbuds
What have you been listening to on Spotify this year? (Image credit: Shutterstock / Chubo - my masterpiece)

Spotify is testing the removal of its lyrics feature on mobile from its free tier for some users. It has been reported that when some free tier users logged onto the app they were met with a message saying “Enjoy lyrics on Premium” with a prompt to then sign up to the paid tier. 

If you are a Spotify subscriber, you may notice that on some songs when you scroll down there are live lyrics underneath the currently playing song , like what you would see on screen while doing karaoke. Spotify looks to be testing whether to move this feature behind a paywall, alongside other features like its premium-only AI DJ feature, which almost acts as your own personal DJ, recommending a playlist with occasional, AI generated voice breaks.

Speaking to The Verge, CJ Stanely, Spotify’s co-head of global comms, specified that currently they’re just “testing” this and that Spotify’s routine tests either “end up paving the way for our broader user experience [while] others serve only as an important learning”. So this is purely a test at the moment, but it still raises some questions as to why Spotify might be looking to remove lyrics for free users. 

Spotify makes the push for premium 

Spotify is one of the best music streaming services available right now, thanks to its user friendly platform and huge library of music so naturally, it has a large usership. When Spotify announced its earnings for the second quarter of 2023 in July, its monthly active users had grown 27% to 551 million and subscribers had grown year-on-year by 17% to 220 million during April and June. This means that roughly 60% of Spotify users use the free tier and in so doing, may well use the lyrics feature should Spotify decide to go ahead with removing it. 

With roughly only 40% of users being subscribers, Spotify has had to raise its premium prices in a bid to try and make more revenue. This also comes off the back of an issue where white noise podcasts (podcasts that just play ambient sounds as opposed to talking) were costing Spotify a lot of money – $38 million to be precise (via Bloomberg) – which the company thinks it can get back by removing them . Currently however, they do still remain on the platform. 

For years Spotify has promised a hi-fi tier that supports hi-res audio streaming in a bid to compete with other streaming services like Tidal and although rumors have surfaced that Spotify HiFi could launch later this year, it will be its own ‘super-premium’ tier. If this launches, could other features fall behind paywalls as well? 

Thankfully, the removal of the lyrics feature is just a test as Spotify said, but with no word on how long it will last, the free users who are subject to this test will have to wait for lyrics to return. Here’s hoping it does soon.

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James Davidson
TV Hardware Staff Writer, Home Entertainment

 James is the TV Hardware Staff Writer at TechRadar. Before joining the team, he worked at a major UK based AV retailer selling TV and audio equipment, where he was either telling customers the difference between OLED and QLED or being wowed by watching a PS5 run on the LG 65G2. When not writing about the latest TV tech, James can be found gaming, reading, watching rugby or coming up with another idea for a novel.