Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon, Deezer
(Pocket-lint) – Once your kids reach a particular age, you’ll find that it becomes difficult to have everyone using the same music account. Not only does this mess up your auto-generated playlists, but more importantly, it means you can’t listen because someone else is using that subscription.
Next comes the family plan, aiming to give multiple users access to streaming services without you having to pay the full price for multiple individual subscriptions.
Here we break down the costs, advantages and disadvantages of each different system and you will find that they are all competitively priced.
Spotify is the big daddy of streaming services, over 82 million tracks, 3.6 million podcasts and Spotify Radio, but most importantly there’s plenty of support for Spotify on other devices via the Premium service – on smart TVs, speakers, Android, Apple, PC, Mac – with Spotify Connect a major advantage.
The family price is £16.99/$15.99/€14.99 and for that up to six members get the same level of Premium service. If you’re already a Spotify subscriber and joining a family, you can keep your playlists.
You all have to live at the same address – but there’s no limit to the number of devices – and there will be an individual bill. You’ll all need to have individual Spotify accounts linked to an email address – with Spotify Kids an exclusive part of Spotify Family, with content specifically for young children.
There’s ad-supported Spotify Free as an alternative, but it has limitations – and if you’re part of a Spotify family, you can’t use other discounts or use free subscriptions from third parties, like your phone carrier mobile.
There is explicit content filtering, which you can set on an individual basis so that the primary account holder is responsible for what family users can and cannot hear.
The downside to Spotify is that if you use devices like the Echo in your household, all tied to one account, it won’t recognize individual family users, so you can’t play on multiple devices.
Apple Music offers 90 million songs and access to Apple Music 1 (formerly Beats 1) radio station. It is supported on Apple and Android devices, Apple HomePod, Sonos, PC, Mac, Amazon Echo devices and Google Nest devices.
Apple Music includes everything you might have in your iTunes collection, including music you’ve purchased from Apple, and you can sync iCloud music you download – with each member able to share iTunes purchases with the family . You also get access to Apple’s growing collection of Dolby Atmos spatial audio, as well as premium lossless audio on select tracks.
Apple Music costs £14.99/$14.99/€14.99 for a family of six and everyone will need to have an Apple ID to be part of the family – as it does with Family Sharing. You can create an Apple ID for children under 13 using your own email address as an emergency backup; children over 13 can create their own Apple ID.
You can join a family if you’ve ever subscribed to Apple Music, keeping your playlists, etc.
You can also set content restrictions in Apple Music. This must be set on each device (it’s not universal), but the settings can be locked with a PIN. Apple Music will let you have multiple streams on devices like the Echo in your household.
Unlimited Amazon Music
While Amazon Music offers “free” access via Prime subscriptions within Prime Music, for all 75 million songs you will need to purchase an appropriate Amazon Music subscription – Amazon Music Unlimited. Prime Music only has a catalog of 2 million titles.
The Unlimited Family Account gives you six members and each user gets an individual account; each member must be at least 13 years old to have an Amazon account, so it is different from other Amazon Household accounts – like Kindle.
You can download music from Amazon Music Unlimited, and music you buy from Amazon – including AutoRip tracks – is included. Amazon Music Unlimited can also be “cast” to Echo devices on the same network using Alexa Cast, while multiple streams within an Echo household are supported.
Amazon also supports higher resolution music, on select tracks, as well as Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio on compatible devices.
Explicit lyrics filtering is available and you’ll need to enable it on each individual device, but there’s no PIN protection so can be easily disabled.
YouTube Music takes over from Google Play Music and offers a strong catalog of 70 million official albums, playlists, singles and videos. It is accessible on Android or Apple devices, PC, Mac, supports Google Cast to many speakers and is natively supported on Google Home devices.
The family plan requires all users to have a Google account, which then allows up to 6 family members (including the bill payer) all living at the same address. You can only change family groups once a year. You can include children you set up using Family Link if your child is under 13, otherwise everyone needs their own Google Account.
It costs £14.99 / $14.99 / €14.99 for the family.
There are parental controls in the YT Music app that will allow you to exclude explicit content from music.
Deezer offers 90 million streaming music tracks and works well with a wide range of platforms, on Android, iPhone, PC as well as smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Nest.
The family price is £14.99/$14.99/€14.99 and that again gives you 6 users – all of whom must live at the same address – with separate profiles. Deezer is keen to point out that you’ll get plenty of content perfect for younger kids with its Deezer Kids option featuring music choices for those under 12.
There is a limit of 13 devices for the Deezer family account – 3 for the primary subscriber, then 2 each for secondary users.
There is explicit lyric filtering that can be enabled on each playback device.
You might not immediately think of Tidal when it comes to family music, but the service is priced competitively compared to other services. Tidal has made a name for itself on higher quality music and indeed you get it here, at streaming CD/1411kbps quality rather than the lower quality you’ll find on some other services. However, the HiFi Plus – which offers the best quality quality, costs £29.99 on the family plan.
You will get up to 6 users and each will need their own email address to enable login. There is no option to block explicit lyrics on Tidal, but you can block artists. You can only use Tidal with Amazon Echo in the US, not elsewhere, so it’s a bit more restricted and best experienced via the phone or desktop app for families.
However, prices vary by region.
Written by Chris Hall.