Ok, so that was fast. I can admit that. Just last week I wrote about how much better Apple Music had gotten with iOS 10, and my thoughts on the service itself haven’t changed all that much. However, my feelings about Spotify’s services changed quite a lot during this past week when they greenlit Spotify Premium for Family to go live in Canada. For $17 CAD (including tax), the plan can support up to six people at the same address. Spotify doesn’t seem to enforce this strictly, but that’s what the policy says, and it’s likely a part of the contract with music companies.
This is a big deal to me because it means I can now share music with my family, without having to link to YouTube. iMessage makes it very easy to share Apple Music songs, but I don’t know anyone else in my circle of friends or family that actually uses the service. Everyone else is on Spotify or Google Play Music.
Apple’s Family Sharing
Apple does offer a $15 Apple Music subscription for families, as well, but there’s a huge caveat there. You have to have Family Sharing enabled on all accounts, in order for them to take part. This is just bad news, because Apple’s Family Sharing has a very specific idea of how a nuclear family should share digital accounts. Only one person can be the organizer, and everyone’s music, app, and media purchases will end up on the organizer’s credit card. Family Sharing means you can share apps (but not in-app purchases), but it also means a lot of family budgeting in a way that we’re not used to doing. I don’t want to have to keep a list of what my family will owe me (if I was the admin for the account) from month to month for all of our various purchases. I just want to share music with them.
Spotify’s Family Plan
Spotify’s Family Plan still puts a single bill on one credit card, but it’s a much more manageable experience because it will be the same charge every single month: $15 + tax. My parents were Spotify subscribers before this anyway, so in effect, we are all paying for music each month, and we can now easily share albums and song recommendations (as a nice bonus, sharing a song via iMessage now results in a page preview with album art).
Music Outside of the Vacuum
This isn’t new to anyone from the US, but it took a while for it to get to Canada, and it has changed the way I think of music subscription services. It was already novel and exciting for me to pay for an all-I-can-listen-to buffet of music that I can stream and download to my device. However, I can also fall into a bit of a rut where I end up listening to all of my favourite songs over and over again, and I forget to seek out newer songs or other sounds.
So I like the idea of being exposed to more music, simply because my friends and family are on the same service. This just wasn’t going to happen with Apple Music, but it’s been great so far on Spotify. My best music recommendations have always come from people I know (although algorithms are getting better), so I anticipate my own personal library will grow exponentially over the coming months.
Gaps in the Service
The one caveat to all of this is that Spotify does have a different selection of music than Apple Music does; I’m already noticing a few favourite songs (like “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) are available on Apple’s service, but not on Spotify. These gaps in service can feel glaring, and I don’t have a great plan for addressing them at this time, other than keeping a local copy of my favourite songs synced to my iPhone’s Music app.
Luckily, there’s no long-term commitment required to use these services. If these gaps in albums really do bug me over the coming months, I can always re-activate my Apple Music subscription and use that service instead. But for now, I’m really excited to share and hear more thanks to Spotify’s Family Plan.