If your family is anything like mine, music is both incredibly important and a point of contention almost daily. We all love listening to music, and there is a lot we can agree on. However, music can also be a very personal thing and is often tied directly to a person’s mood. And, my family’s mood is hardly ever the same all at once. And then there’s the issue of monitoring what your kids listen to. So, how do you find the best family streaming music service to fit everyone’s needs? And, how does Spotify Family work?
The Spotify Premium Family plan offers six premium accounts for people living at the same address. Each account must be able to verify that it originates from the same address as the main account. You can add regular accounts and Spotify Kids accounts as well. But, how well does Spotify Family work?
For my family, it works very well for the most part. There are some glitches now and then. It’s not a perfect solution, but few solutions to any family issue are perfect. I’ll go over what problems we have and how we get around them. But with some forethought and planning, you can have a wonderful family music experience with Spotify Premium Family.
What problems do we have with Spotify Premium Family?
While Spotify solves most of our problems as a music-loving family, it isn’t perfect, and it does take a bit of work. How much work is entirely dependent on your goals and your comfort level with what you allow your kids to listen to.
For us, this means finding the right balance between control as parents and freedom for our kids. We find that introducing our kids to age-appropriate music and then allowing them to decide what to listen to after that is the right way to go for us. That usually means curated playlists. More on the specifics of that in a bit.
There are also some technical issues that we’ve had to overcome. Mostly, this had to do with which app to use, the web player or the dedicated Spotify app. For instance, searching through a playlist can be difficult with the web player. Again, I’ll explain how we got past that as well.
Understand that most, if not all of these issues, will be based on the age of your kids and how strict or lenient you are with what they listen to. We tend to be pretty conservative with language and themes, but there is never a problem finding tons of great music for our kids.
I went through this drill with my older daughter way before Spotify existed, and it’s pretty amazing how much easier it is to introduce your kids to music with this service.
How to make a kid-friendly Spotify Playlist
So, this is the basis of how we make Spotify Premium Family work for us. Spending time listening to and talking about music has always been one of my favorite things to do with my kids. It’s one of the main ways I’ve been able to bond with them.
I realize that not every parent wants to spend that kind of time scouring the internet for appropriate musical content. Not because they don’t care about their kids, but more because not everyone is as rabidly addicted to music as I might be.
There are some great pre-made playlists on Spotify, and you could just start there. We’re working on some playlists to recommend as well. So, watch this space.
Steps for creating a good, age-appropriate batch of music for my middle school aged kid.
- Create a master playlist on my account (the account that “owns” the Spotify account). I don’t make it secret, but I also don’t make it Collaborative.
- Have my kid follow that master playlist on her Spotify account.
- Go through as much “low hanging fruit” that I can think of and add that quickly. (This might include anything that I’m 100% confident is OK to add without checking lyrics or anything.)
- Then as often as I can, I will “surprise” my daughter with new music added to her playlist.
- I will also make time for us to sit together and add music that she wants while I check lyrics and everything.
Once we have the list going, my daughter can make her own playlists from the master playlist that we both manage, but that I have control over. This method works really well for us. She has the freedom to control what she listens to after I have a chance to vet the content.
I try to vary the music as much as possible. She has access to everything from gospel, jazz, Hip hop, and Christmas music to hard rock, punk, funk, and pop.
Are there Spotify parental controls?
There are, but they could be a lot more granular for my tastes. I understand that this is a really hard one to accomplish; however, with better insight into song content, parents could make a much more informed decision with less effort. And I’m all about that whenever possible. Not because all parents are lazy, but because in situations with more info and tools to be better parents, most of us are actually better parents. Or at least I hope so.
Spotify does offer an explicit content filter. So, I do set that filter on my child’s account. It does NOT filter everything questionable, so understand that you will still need to know what goes into your kid’s playlist. But, it does help.
I do choose to read lyrics of songs I don’t know, and even some that I do know just to be sure. But, again, I actually don’t mind this step. I’m a lifelong music lover, and that includes lyrics.
The Spotify Kids app is a bit different though.
Music streaming for younger kids
The Spotify Kids app is very much directed at younger kids. They advertise it as being suitable for kids three years and up. While we don’t use this service in our home, I do see that much of the content is from movie and TV show soundtracks.
Spotify also put together a short article showing some of the most popular songs on Spotify Kids from 2020.
One thing to understand is that using Spotify Premium Family the way I’ve explained above and using Spotify Kids is a very different experience. If you’re managing a master playlist as I’ve described, then everyone will be on a normal Spotify account using either the Spotify web player or the app.
However, if you go the Spotify Kids route, you’ll be using a separate app for that altogether. This can be good, or it can be inconvenient, depending on how you use Spotify.
Just realize that either way you go, if you have a dedicated device for your kids to run their app while you stream your Spotify account, say through your phone, there isn’t an issue. But, if you’re all sharing an iPad, you may need to take turns.
Spotify Web Player vs Spotify App
So, let’s take a second to talk about the technical side of streaming Spotify as a family, and what issues you might encounter.
In general, you’re either going to stream Spotify through their web player, which is basically just a web app (think sophisticated website), or you’re going to install the dedicated Spotify app on a device such as a phone or a tablet.
You can also install the Spotify app on a laptop and some Chromebooks (more on Chromebooks in a sec).
The Spotify web player is great if you don’t have the Spotify app available. That’s pretty much all I can say about it. It does the job, pretty well. We did have many more buffering issues when streaming through the web player, but we were also streaming primarily on an older Chromebook. But this device was able to handle Zoom meetings, YouTube, and similar streaming content without issue.
An equally inconvenient issue with the web player was the lack of a search function within playlists. This was a big problem for us because the master playlist gets very, very long. We discussed chopping up the master playlist somehow, alphabetically, by genre, or chronologically perhaps. But in the end, my daughter felt that she had more control if she was able to make her own playlists from a huge master playlist. Searching that on the web player was painful.
The dedicated Spotify app works a lot more seamlessly. The buffering issue doesn’t seem to be a problem as it was with the web player. And the biggest difference is the fact that you can search within playlists on the app. This was a game-changer. When you get over a certain number of songs in a playlist, you really need to be able to search.
Spotify with your home network
Just a quick note to point out that another thing we changed was our modem and router for our home network. This may seem like a small thing, but it had some significant effects on our ability to stream content throughout our house.
Remember to check that your home networking equipment is up to date and that your router is placed correctly in your home to maximize the reach of your WiFi signal. It can make a big difference to how smoothly you can stream everything from movies and TV shows to Spotify music.
Spotify on a Chromebook
I wanted to talk about using Spotify on a Chromebook separately for a couple of reasons.
First of all, because it did present a bit of an issue for us. My daughter was still using an older Chromebook that she originally got in third or fourth grade. It had been a while. I’m impressed because that thing held up like a tank.
However, it did not support installing apps from the Google Play store. So, we decided it was time for an upgrade, and it was well worth it. After the device upgrade and app installation, my daughter has full search capability and can easily manage her music collection.
We didn’t upgrade the Chromebook primarily for the Spotify app, but it was a great added benefit.
Also, I wanted to bring this up because I know many families out there will be dealing with Chromebooks as more and more of their kids are using them for school. Some schools won’t even allow you to install apps like Spotify, so you may be stuck with the web player. If that’s the case, you might want to think of different ways to organize your master playlist into smaller, more manageable chunks.
But, if it’s within your budget, I do recommend owning your own Chromebook. You can personalize it in terms of security and privacy, and you’ll have more control over what apps you install.
Is Spotify Premium Family the best music streaming service for families?
I’ve been a fan of Spotify for a long time, and right now, it’s working really well for our entire family.
It gives me a huge database of music to introduce my daughter to, and it gives her the freedom to listen to whatever she likes. And at the same time, I have the peace of mind knowing what she’s putting into her ears…and her head.
It’s a great tool for families who like to spend time listening to and truly exploring music together.
If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments below.