Spotify (iOS, Android) is threatening to pull Premium access from users paying for family plans unless they confirm their GPS coordinates. "Premium for Family" users began getting emails earlier this month.
Users began tweeting Spotify and complaining.
"Why do you need my GPS location to continue offering me a 'Premium discount'? I pay for the family plan and it should not matter where my family lives. Will you cancel my account if my family gets too far from each other?" One user tweeted.
Others threatened to cancel their accounts. The Spotify Support account has been replying to most of the tweets.
Quartz reports that Spotify required two to five people on a family plan to reside at the same address. When we double checked, we didn't see a stipulation of that nature. Spotify's Support page specify "you and up to 5 members of the same household" can use a family account.
Spotify does leave a loophole in its Terms of Service to change aspects of the user agreement.
"Occasionally we may, in our discretion, make changes to the Agreements. When we make material changes to the Agreements, we'll provide you with prominent notice as appropriate under the circumstances," Spotify said on its website.
Regardless, Spotify is apparently applying narrow parameters to "family." Some families may not live together because of separation or military deployment.
One can imagine Spotify is cracking down because it's not always families that share the bill on an account. A Twitter search of "Spotify Family Account" yields multiple users tweeting requests to open a shared account, almost like a "roommate wanted" notice.
Spotify is available for free. Single-user Premium accounts cost $10 per month. Family Premium accounts cost $15. Six people on a family account could pay $2.50 each, it's still only one payment and one account for the company. If they all had single accounts, Spotify would make about $60 per month from them.
Billboard reported that nearly half of global streaming subscribers--Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Amazon--are on family plans. It was also noted that family plans are particularly popular in low-earning households.
As family plan usage climbs, the streaming services may have to hike the price to make up the difference.
And it's not just music services. Fortune reported that account sharing occurs with video-streaming too. A survey from this summer showed that Netflix users most frequently use their parents' or a friend's account. Almost half of the users who responded to the survey said the account owner didn't know they were partaking.
Sometimes people might share accounts to save money. Other times, they might share to test out the service before buying it themselves. It's unknown how strictly Spotify will enforce the new GPS tracking. Pushing too hard could clearly result in a backlash from users.
Download.com reached out to Spotify for comment and will update this story.
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