Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spotify Introduces a Family Discount for Music Streaming

BEN SISARIO/The New York Times

In the latest change in what has been a sometimes confusing year of pricing changes for streaming music, Spotify on Monday introduced a discount program for families.

According to the new plan, Spotify — which sells online access to 20 million songs — will let its subscribers add up to four accounts at half the usual price, which is $10 a month. So a subscriber adding, for example, one account for his or her spouse, and another for a child, would pay a total of $20 a month: $10 for the primary account, and $5 for each additional one.

Of course, those people can listen to Spotify free, if they are willing to hear advertising. Paid subscriptions are ad-free and bring other perks like higher audio quality and full access on mobile devices.

Spotify’s family discount is the newest development in the streaming-music pricing wars, as online music services try to compete with low prices and record companies — which issue the licenses that most such companies need to operate — try to keep the revenue from streaming music high as sales of both CDs and downloads plunge.

This year, Spotify introduced a half-price discount for college students, which is still available. And in April the company also announced a deal through Sprint’s “framily” program — networks of friends and family — that let people get Spotify for as little as $5 a month for 18 months. That program was dropped over the summer, although Spotify still has discounts through Sprint that give people up to six months of the service free, and then a discounted rate of $8 a month for 18 months.

Other streaming services, like Rdio, have student and family discounts as well, but keeping track of them can be difficult.

When Beats Music was introduced in January, for example, a partnership with AT&T let people get up to five Beats accounts for $15 a month. But in the wake of Apple’s $3 billion takeover of Beats, that appears to have changed. AT&T recently stopped selling Beats subscriptions, and family plans are no longer available. In the meantime, there have been reports that Apple is trying to negotiate with record labels for new licensing terms that will allow it to sell Beats subscriptions at much lower prices.

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