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Circuit Breaker

As HomePod launches, Spotify cuts off support for some speakers and receivers

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Goodbye, built-in streaming

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Spotify is removing itself from a number of home audio speakers and receivers from the likes of Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Bang & Olufsen, Pioneer, and Yamaha. Some devices are losing Spotify integration completely, while others will require firmware updates if users want to continue receiving built-in access to their music. The products in question were once all able to independently play Spotify over the internet — no smartphone required.

This isn’t exactly breaking news; the streaming music company announced this change was coming months and months ago. But at that time, things were still working as normal for users who would ultimately be impacted by the move. Over the last few weeks, the cutoff has actually occurred, and Spotify is getting a slew of complaints in its support forums about the lost functionality. “We updated our backend platform, so that means Spotify Connect is no longer integrated into some older generation speakers and TVs. In some cases, manufacturers can update their firmware to be compatible with the new platform,” a Spotify spokesperson told The Verge by email today.

So in preparation for future Spotify Connect features, Spotify has deemed it necessary to leave behind A/V equipment that consumers typically buy and keep for many years. Those consumers are understandably upset that they’re losing access to the leading subscription music service; in some cases Spotify was advertised right on the box of their speaker or receiver. Who’s right in this push and pull? Shouldn’t one goal of updating your backend be to not completely delete Spotify for some customers? This is music we’re talking about! It’s audio, not 4K video. Why is it necessary to leave anyone behind in the first place? How many old and dusty gadgets does Netflix still work on? But on the other side, should sluggish home theater companies — not exactly known for frequent, timely firmware updates — hold back whatever the company wants to do with Spotify Connect?

Such is the danger of not owning your music, really. If Spotify goes, so do your tunes. Now let’s not overblow this or make it sound like a catastrophe; people still have options for playing Spotify on these products. Plug an aux cord into your phone. Buy a cheap Chromecast Audio dongle. Find some other workaround like AirPlay or Google Cast if the device offers it. But there’s the whole crux: a great feature that might’ve factored into the initial buying decision for some is just gone and now requires a workaround to maintain. Denon and Yamaha are updating their gear to keep Spotify working, but for some other big home theater companies, Spotify is just saying game over and completely removing the custom integration that was once there.

The loss of support comes as Apple Music continues a charge toward catching up with Spotify’s paid subscriber count, which The Wall Street Journal recently estimated could happen this summer. Spotify continues to support a variety of popular speakers like those from Sonos. Apple will release the $349 HomePod, its own premium speaker with Siri voice controls, on Friday.