Spotify launches CD-quality streaming for subscribers

In a move that will further delight it’s growing cohort of fans, streaming music startup Spotify is launching a much-requested feature, namely CD quality streaming.

Spotify subscribers will be able to listen to music in CD quality sound as of this week. Till now the service has been available for free at a good sounding quality of 160 kb/s. But the service has moved to make “sound normalisation” an optional setting, aimed of course at paying customer.

So Spotify Premium users will be able to listen to music at double the current quality, at up to 320 kb/s using the Ogg Vorbis q9 codec – equivalent to CD quality and – they say – the highest streaming rate for any digital music service.

Initially the most popular tracks will be available at the higher bit rate, with the entire catalogue converted to 320 kb/s over the next few weeks. Other of Spotify’s Premium services – aside form removing the adverts – include access to pre-releases, concert ticket giveaways and the ability to listen in any jurisdiction.

Of course, they will have flagged this move the the music labels they license their catalogue from. Even so, I daresay there are a few music execs out there who may be breakout out in a sweat at the thought of the hottest music service suddenly jumping in quality.

The launch of CD-quality is just in time to potentially capitalise on industry moves to incorporate songs from music streaming sites into the Top 44 chart in the UK.

“Celestial jukebox” services like We7 and Spotify have taken off in 2009. However The Official UK Charts Company said although it was “bound to” include streaming and subscription services at some point, it would not do so for at least another year. This of course gives the music industry breathing space to further milk the dying cow of their existing business model.