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Music Streaming - Privately

Guest Contributor, October 30, 2018

 

As someone who grew up in the 90s and hauled around a Walkman and a binder full of CDs, I’m happy that access to music has evolved. Historically speaking, streaming services provide a level of convenience that is unbeatable – I get access to countless songs through my smartphone without having to haul around a Walkman or countless CDs.

However, some music services come with privacy risks.

The “Friends Are Listening To” Feature:

            Earlier this year, I saw the “Friends Are Listening To…” feature on Apple iTunes.  A friend has been listening to the song, “The Baby Shark.”  She is a new mother, so it was heartwarming to see this song on her feed. Additionally, her music feed was jam packed full of songs for children.  In context, I admit her feed seemed innocent enough.

            However, other songs from shared threads were somewhat concerning. In the same thread, I saw another friend who seemed to be in a sad mood because words like tearjerkers, cry-fest, breakup, and heartbreak were consuming their playlist. The songs and playlists showed up for months. Was it really my business to reach out?  I had a feeling he was unaware that his information was being shared.

            When I reached out, I mentioned that he seemed to be down in the dumps. I asked whether he was doing ok.  He was shocked to hear that his music feed was viewable. He assured me that he is alright, expressed his embarrassment, and thanked me for reaching out.

 Online Privacy Settings Are Not Created Equal:

             Although some music services have privacy settings, these settings are not created equal – especially since some services are “Free.” The myriad of privacy differences between services is complex, with Apple having the most options while Pandora’s service is more simplistic.

 (i)        Apple iTunes – Many Options to Manage What is Shared with Whom:

 With Apple iTunes, basic profile information like your profile photo, name, and username will be visible to other Apple Music members and web search results.  However, there are many options that give the consumer more control over permissions to share with others.  Individual songs in a playlist can be hidden, while the scale of management with other music providers is not as micro.

 (ii)       Spotify – Unable to Keep Spotify Followers Private

 A Spotify account profile page is always visible to other Spotify members - even if they don’t follow you. This includes your username, profile picture, public playlists, recently played artists, who you follow, and your followers.  Spotify gives the consumer the ability to listen in what it calls a “Private Session” to temporarily hide their feed from others, and the ability to switch listening history off completely.    

 (iii)      Pandora Simplicity: Your Privacy Features Are Either On or Off. 

 On the other hand, Pandora’s approach is more simplistic: either share or don’t share at all.  However, your profile is shared by default.  When your profile is public then Pandora will share listening activity. If your profile is private, the system restricts anyone from seeing your Pandora web profile. Lastly, followers are hidden from the public’s view.

 

Comparison Snapshot Between Privacy Settings:

 

Cost For Service Per Month

Username Publically Viewable?

Profile Picture Publically Viewable?

Playlists Publically  Viewable?

Hide Recently Played Artists?

Hide  Who You Follow?

Hide Followers From Public?

Hide Specific Playlists?

Show Song “Likes” (or Equivalent)

Apple iTunes

$9.99

Always

Always

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Never

Spotify

Free or $9.99 for Premium

Always

Always

Sometimes

Never

Never

Never

Sometimes

Sometimes

Pandora

Free or $4.99 for Pandora One or $9.99 for Premium

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Always

Sometimes

Sometimes

 

To Change Your Privacy Settings On Your Music Subscription Account, Visit Your Music Provider’s Help Pages for More Information.

Apple iTuneslink   

Spotifylink

Pandoralink

 

 

 

 

The Office of Privacy and Data Protection announces beta testing of “Privacy Modeling,” a new web application that identifies the privacy laws relevant to the product or service you wish to create.

Go to Privacy Modelling App

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