With growing competition, Spotify’s family plan crackdown could backfire

Most popular music streaming services offer family plans, letting you and a few family members split the bill and get your music streaming on for even less than a standard subscription. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that considering it’s so easy to do so, some users also share their subscriptions with friends to lower the cost even further. Companies frown on this, but until now, none have done much to combat it.

Now Spotify is taking steps to put a stop to this, according to Quartz, but it could end up costing the service subscribers it badly needs if it’s going to continue to compete with Apple Music, its main rival.

Spotify Premium for Family subscribers in the United States and Germany have begun receiving emails asking them to confirm their location by clicking a link that then requests their GPS information. “To continue using Spotify Premium for Family, you’ll need to confirm your home address,” the emails read. An ominous warning follows: “If you don’t confirm, you may lose access to the plan.”

On the Spotify website, the company states that users of the Premium for Family plan, which supports up to five people, must all live in the same location. Users who have received these emails are saying that the name of the plan is misleading if this is the case, since not all families live together. Families with separated parents, for example, could be affected by this, regardless of everyone on the plan being family.

“Spotify is currently testing improvements to the user experience of Premium for Family with small user groups in select markets,” a Spotify spokesperson said in response to Quartz’s request for comment. “We are always testing new products and experiences at Spotify, but have no further news to share regarding this particular feature test at this time.”

Apple Music is already leading Spotify in the U.S., so the last thing the service needs right now is to appear hostile to users, but this is exactly what is happening. That’s not the only competition either: With SiriusXM poised to acquire Pandora, thereby creating the world’s largest audio entertainment company, the service may see another serious competitor.

Billboard reports that almost half of global streaming subscribers, including those of Spotify’s rivals, use family plans, so this is a large population of users it could end up angering. If Spotify starts pushing users away and into the arms of its competition, the outlook for the service could suddenly become a lot gloomier.

Home Theater

Sling TV offers free shows, a la carte subscription channels to Roku users

If you are among a select group of Roku users, Sling TV has added free TV shows and the option to subscribe to individual channels without having to subscribe to the company's base level of channels.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Movies & TV

How much does Netflix cost? Here’s a pricing breakdown of its plans

Wondering how much a Netflix subscription costs? You're not the only one. That's why we put together a quick-hit guide covering all the Netflix plans, whether you want to opt for 4K streaming or a disc-based option.
Music

The best new music this week: Angelo De Augustine and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: New albums from Angelo De Augustine and Miss Grit.
Home Theater

QLED and OLED may have similar names, but they're totally different technologies

The names may look almost identical, but OLED and QLED are two entirely different beasts. In our QLED vs. OLED battle, we dissect the differences between these dueling TV technologies, and help determine which might be best for you.
Home Theater

Amazon’s updated base model Fire TV stick now comes with an Alexa remote

If you're looking to take your older TV into the streaming era, Amazon's most basic Fire TV Stick model just got more compelling than ever: Buyers can now get a free Alexa voice remote with their Fire TV Stick purchase.
Home Theater

Leave the charger behind: Wireless headphones will get epic battery life in 2019

From wireless in-ears to noise-canceling over-ears, virtually every headphone manufacturer has seriously improved wireless headphone battery capacity, making fears about charging up for long listening sessions a thing of the past.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be touch. To help, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Home Theater

Roku adds automatic sign-out mode, for those with regular houseguests

Being able to use a Roku device while staying at a hotel or Airbnb is awesome. What is less awesome is leaving yourself signed in after you leave. With a new automatic sign-out feature, Roku is making it easier to relax.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.