Spotify Quietly Starts Charging Non-Premium Listeners for Lyrics

Spotify's free tier is losing another feature.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
Spotify logo on phone

If you don't have Spotify Premium, you may lose access to song lyrics.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Wrapped up like a what? There's a bathroom on the right? All the lonely Starbucks lovers? Scuse me while I kiss this guy? We've all had those moments where we're listening to a song and suddenly wonder, "What did they just sing?" Now, Spotify is starting to charge for that curiosity, telling some users that they'll have to pay for a subscription plan in order to regularly read lyrics while jamming out.

The streaming giant hasn't made an official announcement, but users across the internet have started posting screenshots from their Spotify accounts informing them of a new monthly limit on accessing song lyrics, effectively making lyrics a paid feature. 

"Enjoy lyrics on Spotify Premium," one purported screenshot displayed, as reported by Android Authority. "Every time you tap 'Show lyrics', it will count towards your limit," another posted by Dexerto said

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A CNET staffer who uses Spotify's free plan was unable to load lyrics for recent songs from hit artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Beyonce.

A Spotify representative said in a statement that the company's features "can vary over time, between markets and across devices" but didn't address the lyrics question directly. 

The company charges $11 per month for individual premium access to its service in the US.

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Spotify's move to push users toward paying for a premium subscription is the latest example of how streaming giants are raising prices and squeezing customers. TV, music and movie streaming companies have been regularly raising prices for the past couple years, while at the same time clamping down on password sharing. Google's YouTube, meanwhile, has also begun cracking down on ad-blocking apps, pointing upset users toward its ad-free $14 per-month subscription.

Unlike other streaming services, Spotify does offer a free tier subsidized by advertising. Free users are limited to shuffled playlists and few skips per hour, effectively creating a tech-industry equivalent of a radio station. 

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Still, Spotify is very popular. The Sweden-based company said last month that it counted 615 million monthly active users as of March 31, with 239 million people paying for a subscription. Its overall sales for the first three months of 2024 were 3.6 billion euros (about $3.9 billion at current conversion rates). Spotify also reported around $211 million in net profits, following a series of layoffs that cut 2,300 employees from its staff last year.