The more fastidious audiophiles amongst us might roll their eyes at this announcement, but don’t discount the very significant message Spotify HiFi sends to the popular music community. And that message is High Fidelity matters.
Now, anybody with a half-decent stereo system already knows this. And it’s likely you’ve been screaming the same message to anyone within earshot who’ll listen. We all do it, guys. And they all roll their eyes.
But Spotify is the world’s largest streaming platform, largest by a country mile. It’s home to over 286 million monthly subscribers – 36% of all music subscription listeners. There are over 50 million music tracks available on the service, with 44,000 new tracks added every day.
It’s the world’s most influential music medium. So, for Spotify to announce that HiFi matters to its community, to its artists and more importantly to YOU, their audience, it sets a pretty large precedent. And it’s one likely to have significant roll-on effects in ways that won’t be appreciated for many years to come.
Not only will you now have access to the biggest CD library on the planet, allowing you a deeper and more meaningful connection with your favourite artists and albums. But this renewed popular interest in high fidelity will spawn new investment, new technology, and introduce a whole new generation to something that was utterly shitcanned by the dawning of a our digital era – high fidelity music quality.
Two examples define the importance of this announcement best. First, it’s title. This isn’t Spotify Premium Premium or even Spotify Ultra. It’s not even Spotify Music Weirdo, resigning the service to only an eccentric niche. No, it’s Spotify HiFi. And it’s a polite nod to an industry that was basically gutted by the popular rise of digital music and its bastard love child, the UE Boom.
Just the mere mention of the word HiFi in the popular sense conjures forth images of large speaker stacks, record players, and vintage amps with jog dials and VU meters. Basically a 70s house party with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. And this is important, because it’s this image that helps introduce example two: how Spotify chose to sell the idea to their audience.
Enter Billie Eilish and her creative co partner Finneas O’Conner. Basically the two biggest names in popular music right now. And in a pre-recorded video segment (minute 28 of Spotify’s live streamed announcement now available on YouTube), Billie and Finneas are outdoors, encased in a clear plastic bubble, and seated before a giant VINTAGE stereo HiFi system.
And for over a minute, these two explain – WITHOUT the I’m-just-hear-for-the-endorsement-dollars cameo speil – exactly what HiFi means to them personally and why their listeners should use high fidelity music systems. As somebody who understood the potential impact of such an endorsement on the HiFi industry, my jaw dropped.
Billie’s audience is global and largely comprised of Gen Y. So when she and her brother say our listeners should own quality sound systems because we love HiFi, we use HiFi, and because there are elements within our music – music we’ve written specifically for you – that you won’t hear without a great HiFi system, birthday wish lists are re-written to include products their dad’s dad once owned.
As a consequence, high fidelity and HiFi stereo systems might no longer be relegated to the dust bins of popular listening culture. Nobody saw vinyl coming back. And when it did, many said it would be a passing phase. How blind and how wrong so many have been. Is the high fidelity stereo system about to see its rebirth in popular culture? Only time will tell.
But if it does, watch this space, because you’ll see a wealth of new products that better connect you with your favourite artists and albums, and in previously unimagined ways. And I think we’d all like to see that.