Microsoft’s Groove has really stepped it up over the past year. But it’s still missing one key ingredient: Alone among the major music services, Groove doesn’t offer a family plan.
This isn’t a personal issue: My wife and kids are simply not interested in Groove, and I’ll stick with the individual plan. But I’m doing so after major forays into Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Spotify over the past year: Microsoft won me back with major improvements to the service across multiple platforms that put it on more even footing with the competition.
I still have a few minor quibbles with Groove. But the lack of a family plan is the one major area where the service continues to fall flat. Spotify has one, and it’s incredibly fair: It costs just $15 per month and can be used by up to five family members, compared to $10 per month for an individual. Apple Music and Google Play Music have exactly the same pricing, and those services support up to 6 people.
Groove? Still nothing.
Today, individuals can pay $9.99 per month for a Groove Music Pass, or $99.90 per year, which works out to $8.35 per year. But that’s only for individuals. (And to be fair, you can sometimes find it on sale.)
Apple this week started selling a 12-month Apple Music gift card for individuals, effectively lowering the price of this service to just $8.25 per month. That may not seem like big news. But this shows me that Apple is serious about reversing its fortunes in the music business and continuing its all-out campaign against Spotify.
Put another way, even Apple is now undercutting Groove. And of course, as a Microsoft service, Groove simply isn’t all that enticing to most Apple customers, or to many Android users too. So where Spotify and Apple Music, especially, get a lot of media attention and have good brand recognition, lesser services, especially Groove, suffer by comparison. Not having a family plan just makes Groove even less a part of the conversation. In fact, Groove is never part of the conversation.
Granted, Apple’s new pricing is only offered via gift card, making it a bit harder to obtain. And Apple doesn’t offer a free tier as does Spotify and even Groove, assuming you have your own music to stuff into OneDrive.
It’s not enough. Microsoft really needs to offer a Groove family plan. Until it does, it just won’t be a contender.