Are you a Spotify freeloader? The app might ask for GPS data to prove you’re family

Spotify family plan users are being asked to verify their GPS data to ensure that all users in each family plan live at the same address.
Spotify family plan users are being asked to verify their GPS data to ensure that all users in each family plan live at the same address. Associated Press

Everyone knows someone who does it.

The streaming service account freeloader. They’ve asked you for your HBO password or your Hulu account information.

Maybe you share a login for an entire cable account. Maybe it belongs to someone’s parents, because they’re the only ones you know who still pay for cable TV.

One streaming company, though, is taking steps to curb this kind of behavior. It’s the music streaming app Spotify.

This month, complaints have popped up on Twitter from Spotify users who say they’ve gotten emails from the service asking them to confirm their home address through GPS data.

According to Quartz, the emails are being sent to Spotify’s “Premium for Family” plan users, and it warns, “If you don’t confirm, you may lose access to the plan.”

And it’s not just a U.S. effort. The email asking for GPS data to confirm users’ home address is also being sent to folks in Germany, according to the German publication Spiegel Online.

About half of all global streaming music users subscribe to family plans to save money, according to Billboard.

People’s gripe seems to be that since they pay for a family plan, they think that it should not matter where those family members live.

Will you cancel my account if my family gets too far from each other?” one user asked.

But according to Spotify’s terms and conditions, “all account holders must reside at the same address to be eligible for the Premium for Family Plan,” which is basically a bundle of 2-5 individual Spotify accounts for $14.99 per month. So, the address requirement has always been in the fine print.

Besides what some users perceive as Spotify’s tight definition of “family,” some users say the GPS requirement makes for a “hostile user experience.”

“Makes me second guess using the service,” another upset family plan user tweeted.

The company has been responding to some of the social media complaints, often repeating language similar to that found in the email sent to family plan users.

“By confirming your location, you get to enjoy Spotify Premium for Family, and help to pay artists fairly for their music,” went one reply from the company’s customer care team.

Whether the artists whose music is featured on the app are paid “fairly” has also been a well-publicized point of contention, as well, according to Mashable. A U.S. Copyright Rayolty Board ruled in January that Spotify and Apple Music must pay artists more in order to use their songs on the two apps, but a professor at California Irvine told Mashable that it would take 4 million streams for an artist to make teh equivalent of California’s minimum wage over the course of a month.

A recent report from Billboard said the electronic retail giant told music suppliers it will no longer sell CDs in its stores starting this summer.