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How to Save on Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music and Apple Music

November 29, 2016
Cell Phones, Utilities
Family Plans for Music Streaming Services
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Subscription-based music sites are rendering your MP3s obsolete. Cloud-based streaming services let you listen to virtually any song you want at any time without shelling out $15 whenever Beyonce surprises everyone with a new album.

A paid subscription can give you access to exclusive releases and a large catalog and introduce you to new music without taking up space on your phone or computer. With content varying somewhat among streaming services, some audiophiles subscribe to more than one. But that means multiple monthly fees, which can seriously eat into your gift-giving budget this holiday season.

In the same way that choosing the right cell phone plan can reduce your monthly bill, you can save money — and maybe redirect it to other holiday spending — by sharing subscriptions with friends and family. Not all of the most popular streaming services offer family plans; radio-oriented outlets like Pandora and iHeartRadio don’t, for example. But four of the biggest music streaming services — Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music — offer family-plan versions of their premier, ad-free music services, and taking advantage of them could get you serious discounts.

NerdWallet took a look at this quartet to find out how the family plans stack up. Note that the prices below are normal monthly rates and do not reflect temporary promotional rates or discounts for prepayment.

CompanyIndividual planFamily planMax # on family planCost per person (for max # of people)Percent savings
Spotify Premium$9.99$14.996$2.5075%
Tidal Premium$9.99$29.95*5$5.9940%
Amazon Music Unlimited$7.99**$14.996$2.5069%
Apple Music$9.99$14.996$2.5075%
*Tidal family plan price is on a sliding scale — price here is based on the max of 5 members.
**Price is $9.99 if you're not an Amazon Prime member.

Spotify Premium

  • $9.99 per month for an individual plan.
  • $2.50 per person per month for a family plan, if you have the maximum of six people.

The free version of Spotify offers its music collection with ads, limited number of skips on songs, and standard sound quality; the ad-free Premium version offers unlimited skips and high-quality audio. The Premium for Family plan costs $14.99 a month, so if you fill up all six slots, you’re saving 75% on the cost of an individual plan. One big constraint: Unlike the three services listed below, Spotify says you can share your plan only with people who live under the same roof as you.

Tidal Premium

  • $9.99 per month for an individual plan.
  • Starting at $5.99 per person per month, if you have the maximum of five people.

Jay Z’s artist-conscious streaming service lets you have exclusive access to whatever visual album Beyonce (or certain other artists) may drop next, and offers custom playlists curated by actual people instead of algorithms. It also has a family plan option. Both Tidal Premium and Tidal Hi-Fi, which offers better sound quality, allow you to have up to five separate accounts on your family plan. The price adjusts depending on how many people are on your plan — for example, with you and one other person, the cost becomes $14.98 (Premium) or $29.98 (Hi-Fi) per month. But even if you add the maximum number of people to your plan, at a total monthly bill of $29.95 and $59.95, respectively, Tidal is still the priciest family-plan option here.

Amazon Music Unlimited

  • $7.99 for an individual plan with an Amazon Prime membership, or $9.99 for an individual plan without Prime membership.
  • $2.50 per person per month for a family plan, if you have the maximum of six people.

Prime members have access to a limited selection of songs already, but Amazon Music Unlimited is the company’s more direct answer to its streaming competitors. Prime members may bristle at paying another fee, but a family plan can lessen that annoyance. The family plan costs $14.99 a month and allows you to add six people to your account. For those without Prime, good news: You can still get the family plan, and it costs the same.

Apple Music

  • $9.99 for an individual plan.
  • $2.50 per person per month for a family plan, if you have the maximum of six people.

Like Tidal, Apple Music sometimes gets the benefit of exclusive album releases. If you have an iPhone or use Apple computers, it may be the most convenient option. The Apple Music family plan costs $14.99 a month. It doesn’t require family plan members to be under the same roof, but you do have to add yourself to a family sharing group, which means you can share not just your Apple Music account, but calendars, iTunes purchases, photos and locations with your group members. Make sure that everyone in your group customizes their sharing preferences so they’re not sharing anything they’re not comfortable with.

Compound those savings

If you have the maximum number of people on family plans for each of these four services, you’ll pay $13.49 per month total. That’s still less than the cost of a full family plan for three of these platforms. But even if you want just one service and can get only your roommate to join you, splitting the bill by half still saves you money.

Veronica Ramirez is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: vramirez@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @veraudrey. Dan Tonkovich is a data analyst at NerdWallet. Email: dtonkovich@nerdwallet.com.


Methodology

NerdWallet examined publicly available data on pricing models for individual and family plans for Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited and Apple Music, and calculated the price per person if a consumer were to have a family plan for each music streaming service. Prices are normal monthly rates and do not reflect temporary promotional rates or discounts for prepayment.