I can’t justify the price of a HomePod, but my wife and I have a mix of Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers in our house. The obvious choice for a music-streaming service seemed to be Spotify since it works on both platforms. Or at least it seemed that way until we ran into the baffling and user-hostile way Spotify handles home postal addresses. (I should have guessed something like this would happen after Adam Engst ran into an incomprehensible track limit on his account—see “The 10,000 Track Limit: Why I Switched from Spotify to Apple Music,” 30 August 2017.)
You don’t have to give Spotify a home address unless you sign up for a family plan. When you invite someone else to join your plan, they’re asked to enter their address. In this case, I had my wife set it up and, after I entered my address, I received this ominous warning:
My techie warning bells went off. Apparently, Spotify requires address verification to try to ensure that all family members are in the same household, so presumably, those addresses need to be entered identically. Did my wife type out the word “bypass” in our address, or did she use an abbreviation? Did she put our box number on the first or second line? Wanting to make sure I got it right, I asked her to check the address format on her account.
A few minutes later, she told me she couldn’t find it. At first, I figured that she had just overlooked it. So I looked. And looked. She was right, there’s no way to see the address you entered. In fact, until recently, the only way to change the address associated with your account was to delete your account and create a new one. Now you merely have to cancel your subscription, wait for your account to revert to the free tier, and then re-subscribe. It’s still user-hostile, but now more in the sense of a “trespassers will be prosecuted” sign than planting landmines between the geraniums.
Hiding the address has caused all manner of headaches for subscribers.
I strongly suspect this is a scheme to make the music industry happy, but it’s user-hostile and does nothing to prevent users from sharing family plans across households. On the plus side, it’s better than it might have been—Spotify had the audacity to consider GPS verification for family accounts before it faced backlash. Apple must have better leverage with the record labels because location isn’t an issue for Apple Music. Plus, Apple Music now works with Alexa (see “Apple Music Arrives on Alexa,” 17 December 2018).
If you wish to use Spotify and might ever want to sign up for a family plan, I strongly recommend copying down the exact address you enter somewhere, or you can do what I did and switch to Apple Music because I refuse to play these stupid games.