Last month Spotify made a change aiming to catch people who are using a family plan outside of users who reside at the same address. The update to its Spotify Premium Family Terms and Conditions slipped out quietly on August 19 and has gone mainly under the radar, for anyone who hasn't logged into their Family Premium account since then.
The new rules mean that everyone who is on your family plan must use the same physical address to be allowed on the service. Verifying the same address isn't exactly high security as cheating that setup is fairly straight-forward affair of sharing the same address on their account. What the move does do is make those who value being honest and doing the right thing lie in some instances.
Here's an example, I have a family plan with Spotify for my kids because it's cheaper than paying for their individual accounts. Spotify hadn't notified me of needing to enter my address since the change was made, but as soon as I logged into my Family Premium account, it did ask me to enter my address.
The issue is that the verification system it uses for addresses must be able to find your address. If you live in a new neighborhood, good luck. Subscribers who happen to live in an apartment complex, the address verification system can't verify apartment numbers; however it was unable to verify mine. Does that mean if you live at 100 Any Street and there are 30 apartment numbers inside that address, you and your upstairs neighbor are considered family as far as Spotify is concerned?
Another issue is the fact that, in my instance, the only address it will accept for me is wrong. It's the right street number (it won't accept my apartment number) and street, but it lists the wrong city and wrong zip code. Verification fails if I put in the correct city and zip. We are on the cusp of the change from one city to the next; this exact verification failure happens with some pizza delivery locations for my address. Does this mean I have to coach my kids on entering a fake address in case Spotify asks?
Another annoyance with this move is kids of divorced parents. What if you pay for the Spotify account, but the kids live primarily with the other parent? Suddenly as far as Spotify is concerned, you must have an account for mom's house and an account for dad's? Are they no longer family as far as Spotify is concerned post-divorce? If your kids went off to college, they aren't family? They must reside at your address to maintain their membership; if they live in a dorm, they're not family, says Spotify.
At least Spotify isn't asking users to verify addresses with GPS coordinates, it tried that as a pilot program and quickly stopped over privacy concerns. Spotify hit 100 million subscribers in April; this change will likely leave a large number of those subscribers with the same issues I have.