The What Hi-Fi? readers have spoken – and Spotify’s price hike is great news for Tidal

 Tidal gift card.
Tidal gift card.

Usually, hi-fi fans are a pretty civilised bunch. If you look at the What Hi-Fi? Forums, or recent comments on our Vinyl Week coverage, you’ll find a wonderful world of polite discourse and sophisticated conversation.

But, our readers aren't afraid to let their displeasure be known, and this week they've been voicing their opinions on Spotify and its latest price hikes.

Within seconds of posting our news story about the price increase, a sea of comments flooded our Facebook page and forums criticising the news. Reading through them, there was one clear thread – plenty of people are planning to move to Tidal.

“Cancelled my subscription two days ago. Tidal is cheaper and [has] better sound quality,” reads the top comment on our Facebook post.

“I've just signed up to Tidal. Family subscription is the same price [now] that Spotify are putting their family subscription up to £19.99 a month,” chimed in another.

“Spotify is so far behind on sound quality. What they do is a big middle finger to music,” added another reader.

I’m not sure about the middle finger part but, outside of that, myself and the rest of the What Hi-Fi? team are struggling to argue with our readers' logic for a few reasons.

First, two price increases within 12 months during a cost of living crisis is a hard sell at the best of times.

Second, the increase comes just after Tidal, which offers higher streaming quality, announced it is dropping its prices. You can now get a subscription to Tidal’s hi-res steaming tier for roughly the same price or, in some instances, cheaper than Spotify.

In our native UK, for example, an individual Spotify Premium subscription will set you back £11.99, a Duo plan £16.99 and a Family plan £19.99. The family plan feels particularly expensive when Tidal charges £16.99 for a six-person family subscription.

Spotify banner
Spotify banner

Third, Tidal does sound better. You will need a transparent enough system to notice the differences but they are there. We’ve detailed the benefits of Tidal’s hi-res streaming numerous times and if you look at our current buying advice we list Tidal as the best streaming option for audiophiles. And only a few weeks ago veteran rocker Neil Young also railed against Spotify’s poor streaming quality and recommended his fans use Tidal or Qobuz instead for this very reason.

In the past, we still recommended Spotify as the best option for most people because it had an edge over higher-quality rivals in a few key areas – and it was still cheaper. The key benefits include its smarter discovery and recommendations services, a wider catalogue of music and podcasts, and easier to navigate UI.

But when it costs the same as Tidal, that is a hard compromise for any hi-fi fan with the hardware to take advantage of hi-res audio.

One ray of hope for Spotify is that it is rumoured to finally be set to launch its long-awaited higher-quality Spotify HiFi subscription tier. We hope it's competitively priced as and when it is launched.

In response, we’ve decided it's time to re-evaluate the buying advice we’re giving in our best music streaming services guide and will be updating our reviews in the coming weeks to reflect the price changes.

So how big of an exodus from Spotify could there be? And will it make a dent on Spotify's overall user numbers? With Spotify currently pegged to control 30.6 per cent of the music streaming market, that would be a pretty tall order, but one I’d welcome as a proponent of hi-res streaming.


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