Spotify is currently testing a feature that would put song lyrics on the app behind a paywall for free users, the company has confirmed to Billboard.
“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests, some of those tests end up paving the way for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning,” said a Spotify spokesperson in a statement sent to Billboard. “In keeping with our standard practices, we’re currently testing this with a limited number of users in a pair of markets. We don’t have any further news to share at this time.”
The Verge was first to report on the test.
The paywall test has been noted by Spotify users in the free (ad-supported) tier for more than a week on platforms including Reddit and X (formerly known as Twitter), with some decrying the move as “ableist” against the deaf community. Spotify did not immediately respond to Billboard‘s request for comment on that criticism.
With the test, Spotify seems to be looking at ways to potentially convert more free users into premium subscribers on the service, which in the most recent quarter reported an 11% increase in revenue from premium subscriptions and 10 million net new accounts — amounting to a total of 220 million premium subscribers. During the same period, the company also reported a 12% increase in ad-supported revenue. Critically, average revenue per user fell 3% in the quarter while operating losses were €247 million ($272.7 million), leading to some disappointment from investors (its stock has since regained nearly all of those losses).
In July, Spotify announced it would institute a $1 price hike for its premium individual plan in North and South America, Europe and Asia following repeated calls from investors and the music industry to do so following price increases by competitors including Apple, Amazon and Tidal. On its July earnings call, Spotify executives said the move would improve the company’s quarterly operating losses through the remainder of 2023.
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