Spotify Is Restricting Lyrics and Only Offering the Feature to Premium Users

"Some tests end up paving the way for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning," said a Spotify rep.

Brandon Charles - Author

May 1 2024, Published 2:15 p.m. ET

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The tests have concluded and lyrics are now a premium feature on Spotify. The streamer, which is near an all-time high stock value, is doing whatever it can to get people to pay for premium. Spotify initially rolled out the feature in 2019 and in almost every country in 2021. Currently, the ability to see the words that correspond with songs isn't available for free users on Spotify.

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The music, podcasting, and audiobook (did you know Spotify has audiobooks?) app decided to make lyrics a premium feature on the streaming service without making a big deal about it. Needless to say, some users aren't happy.

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Like most of Spotify's decisions, making lyrics premium is related to money.

If it wasn’t obvious, the switch from free to premium for lyrics is a way for the streaming giant to increase revenue. This was initially tested out in September 2023. At that time, CJ Stanley, Spotify’s co-head of global communications, spoke to The Verge about the decision to charge for lyrics.

"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 CJ. "We don’t have any further news to share at this time."

The Verge noted that the streaming giant didn’t clarify what markets, how many users, or how long the test would last. It seems like the test is over and lyrics are now part of premium. You'll have to use pretty much any site to sing along.

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According to Spotify’s earnings, the streamer is doing just fine.

Spotify released its Spotify Reports First Quarter 2024 Earnings on April 23, 2024. It doesn’t appear that the lyrics change is due to lagging business. The company reports, “Monthly Active Users grew 19 percent year-over-year to 615 million. Subscribers increased 14 percent year-over-year to 239 million. Total Revenue was up 20 percent year-over-year to €3.6 billion. The gross margin reached 27.6 percent. Operating Income improved to €168 million.” In other words, everything was up. Everything.

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Reuters notes that one of the reasons everything is up may be due to other cuts. “The Swedish company has been growing its user base for years by offering promotions and investing in podcasts and audiobooks. But since last year it started to cut costs, including through layoffs and its marketing budget, to boost margins and profits.”

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While lyrics are now a Premium feature on Spotify, the internet still exists.

The majority of upset Spotify users are noting that lyrics exist online. Why would anyone choose to use Spotify for lyrics other than convenience? As long as Genius remains free, it’s doubtful stripping lyrics from free users will do much for Spotify’s bottom line.

According to Statista, Spotify already currently has the majority of the market share of streamers, with 31.7 percent of users. The company's nearest competitor is Tencent Music, a streamer available in China, with 14.4 percent of the total market.

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