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Spotify starts cracking down on friends who share family plans

Spotify is emailing some users on family plans asking for their GPS locations in order to confirm that they live in the same location, reports Spiegel Online and Quartz. Subscribers that don’t confirm their home address could lose access to their plan, according to the email. The move is an apparent attempt by Spotify to crack down on groups of friends who save money on individual subscriptions by sharing discounted plans intended for families.

The emails, which have been sent to a limited number of “Premium for Family” subscribers in at least the US and Germany, have been received with scorn by some who rightly point out that not all families live together. However, Spotify’s small print does say that the family plan is available for “you and up to five people who reside at your same address.”

The amount of people subscribed to family plans suggests not all of them abide by Spotify’s definition. Billboard reports that nearly half of global streaming subscribers (including Spotify’s competitors) make use of family plans, because they can reduce the cost of a Spotify subscription by as much as 75 percent with six people on one $14.99 Spotify family plan.

The practice appears to be having an impact on Spotify’s bottom line, with average revenue per user sliding by 12 percent in 2018’s second quarter. Previously the company has offered little to no means of verifying a user’s family status, making it easy to set up shared plans between friends living at entirely separate locations.

It’s unclear how aggressively Spotify plans to move forward with the confirmation process. When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for Spotify said, “Spotify is currently testing improvements to the user experience of Premium for Family with small user groups in select markets. 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.”

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