Spotify reveals HiFi tier, 80-country expansion, new exclusive podcasts

From CNET: Spotify on Monday laid out its vision for "a new golden age of audio," revealing that it will launch a new subscription tier called HiFi for high-quality audio later this year and that it is expanding to more than 80 new countries in the coming days. The streaming-music giant also unveiled podcast exclusives and a suite of new tools for artists and podcasters.

Spotify's virtual Stream On event was the kind of extended presentation that other tech companies tend to trot out once (or more) a year. But Spotify, the biggest streaming service by both listeners and subscribers, hasn't held one of these events since 2018 when it overhauled its free mobile tier. Those changes amped up what you could hear with a free account, unlocking on-demand songs that previously were available only to paying customers. Changes like those, and Spotify's obsession with expanding into podcasts of late, have vaulted the company to 345 million listeners and 155 million paying subscribers as of the end of last year.

At Monday's hour-plus event, Spotify said it'll launch a new high-quality audio subscription called HiFi in select markets later this year, offering CD-quality sound with a lossless compression format. It didn't specify how much the feature will cost or where it'll first roll out, but HiFi is expected to cost about $20 a month to be priced competitively with rivals. And it's probably a safe bet that the new tier will be available in the US, which is the world's biggest music market, as well as Sweden, Spotify's home base.

Spotify is also embarking on its broadest expansion to new markets yet, which will take place this week. It will widen significantly to more than 80 new markets across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe over the next few days. And the company will also make Spotify available in 36 new languages -- including Romanian, Hindi and Swahili -- so it supports more than 60 languages total.

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