Hey Spotify, Are You Kidding Me?

The streaming service’s new Premium Duo feature charges single people more than couples. Thanks.

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Charming couple graphic used in the Spotify email I received letting me know that couples were about to get a deal on their streaming music, and I was not.

We…we need to talk about this. If you checked your email today and managed not to batch delete the entire lot of 40% off sales and calendar notifications in one go, you may have seen an email from Spotify, everyone’s favorite streaming platform that hopes you’ll also start using it to listen to podcasts soon. The email announced Premium Duo, a Spotify subscription that is “Two separate Premium accounts with all the Premium perks.
All for just $12.99 a month.” In other words, Spotify just gave a discount to couples that it is not offering to single people. Yeah, you’re right. That’s bullshit.

To be clear, I’ve spent years loving, absolutely loving Spotify. I am a child of Napster, I know exactly what I’ve been saved from. Following a rather shameful college experience full of music theft, I am now a huge proponent of paying for the content and art I consume, especially now that it means I don’t have to wait an hour for one song to download only to realize afterword that it’s a shitty live version. But I am also a huge proponent of business practices that treat single people and couples equally, and Spotify just decided couples deserve a deal more than singles do.

This new subscription option is only applicable to two people who reside at the same address. So either you have a roommate that you like enough to bind your access to music together, or you’re a member of a couple. As for those of us who are single, living alone, or both, Spotify not only doesn’t care about giving us a discount, but is also happy to make more money off of us than it does off of couples.

The price for couples is $12.99 per month for Spotify Premium. I pay $9.99 per month for the exact same service. So if you’re in a couple, you get to pay $6.49 per month for what I have to pay $3.50 more to use. That’s $42 per year more if you’re as terrible at math as me.

Forgive me if this is ignorance, but what incentive does Spotify have here? Is it somehow easier to provide Spotify’s services to two people in the same household? These are two totally separate Premium accounts it’s offering couples. Does that not require the same level of output and admin that’s required for any other two random Premium accounts anywhere in the world? What, honestly, is the point here? It’s not like couples aren’t sharing one account anyway you guys. Maybe that’s it, maybe Spotify feels like couples are taking advantage of the brand, sharing one account between them, and this is a ploy to get two people to separate their steaming accounts and make a little coin where it hadn’t before via any member of a couple who just can’t take one more day of their partner’s fondness for listening to Journey in the shower. I do know what that can do to an algorithm, and I still don’t care. If you’re willing to charge each member of a couple a discounted price for your services, you’d better offer that to someone who is single, too. Fuck it, you should give single people an even steeper discount, they’re dealing with Tinder for fuck’s sake!

Am I really bitching about $3.50? No.

It’s not about $3.50—I mean, it kind of is, when you add up how much more Spotify is about to start making off of ALL single people that currently use its service, but I digress. This is more about giving perks and advantages to people in couples that are not available to people who are single. It is more about what that says to singles, which is, simply stated: fuck you. Single people are reminded all the time that couples are just “better.” Couples are preferred in an alarming number of ways in our society.

Go try to rent a hotel room right now (just pretend that’s safe to do right now — yadda yadda pandemic). You are one person, looking for one hotel room, but the default setting for room occupants is two. Go look, I’ll wait. Do you know what that feels like? To have to set the dial back to one person every time you book a hotel room? For 12 years? I do. Now’s a good time to also tell you that hotel room default occupancy settings are the least of my goddamn problems as a single person. There are really endless ways our world shows me that it would approve of me more if I were partnered, all the while refusing to lend me a helpful goddamned hand in terms of actually connecting me with a partnership. Don’t you dare bring up dating apps. Don’t you fucking dare. I said helpful.

Here are some ways society loves to remind single people that couples are the preferred group of humans:

  • How are you single? How are you still single? Common questions like these reiterate that coupled is the default setting, and if you’re not coupled, you’re wrong, or something is wrong with you.
  • Google “Dating Advice” or “Dating Coach.” Now try to find the same services for people who would just like to be happy being single. Good luck. It is assumed that the only way for single people to be happy is by finding a partner, and there are endless services, tools, products, etc. that are aimed at helping single people “fix” what’s “wrong.” Oh and they charge single people money, too.
  • There’s a table of single leftovers at a wedding, because lord knows we can’t be peppered in amongst the couples we actually know, that’ll throw the earth of its axis
  • We always get the shitty room at the Airbnb
  • We’re asked to give up the seats we paid for on planes so that couples can sit together (to be 100% honest with you, I gladly do this without bitching when it’s a parent and child who want to sit together, and if I’m 150% honest with you it’s because I don’t want to sit near a child)
  • No one bitches when people take two weeks off work to go get married but if I take two weeks off work because I hate you people, that’s uncool
  • Sit down to dinner with a friend as a single person and pay attention to the first question you’re asked. If you’re the married one, ask yourself why “So, are you seeing anybody?” is always your go-to. “Go on any good dates lately?” is also another gem.
  • Oranges only come in MASSIVE BAGS. And don’t get me started on the jalapeños at Trader Joe’s.
  • Single women (and I won’t go too far down the double standard rabbit hole here because we’d be at this ’til Christmas) typically have to tell a man making unwanted conversation at them that they are “taken,” or else endure whatever bloviating the man wants to spout at them, because that’s the only thing men respect. Other men. Even fake ones.
  • Movies never end with happy single people. Only happy people who were once single who find partners by the end. Carrie should have told Big to go fuck himself. There, I’ve said it.
  • Television shows like Love Is Blind and The Bachelor treat and degrade single people like circus animals, making them do any and everything for entertainment’s sake all under the guise of “finding love.”
  • The kiss at midnight.
  • You get gifts when you get married. Like the marriage isn’t the fucking gift. You get everything you could ever want for your home or kitchen or you get the vacation of a lifetime completely financed. Single people have to pay for everything themselves. FYI I’m registering for my 40th birthday, you’ve all been notified.
  • Google “blog posts for single people.” If you find one that isn’t about dating, that isn’t about ending their single status as fast as possible like its fucking leprosy, you let me know.

The world behaves as though the only thing single people could possibly care about, or have any business caring about, is not being single anymore. What do you think that does to the self esteem of a single person over time? Especially a single person trying their ass off to find love while being unable to fucking find it?

And, as a quick refresher course, here are some purely financial advantages couples get that singles don’t, in addition to cheaper streaming music:

  • splitting rent
  • splitting bills
  • splitting travel expenses
  • splitting Lyft rides
  • splitting every cost associated with being a wedding guest
  • splitting the costs of birthday, holiday, and baby gifts for people you both care about
  • splitting pet costs
  • the ability to buy cheaper groceries in bulk and use them up before they go bad
  • using both of your credit reports to get approved for things or just picking the better one
  • tax benefits for filing jointly if you’re married
  • tax free gifts to spouses
  • choosing the partner who has the better/more affordable health insurance

They also get to:

  • have sex with someone who is not a stranger
  • avoid the horrors of the modern dating scene entirely
  • not be alone in a pandemic
  • have someone in their home who can tell if they have COVID and can’t wake up from sleep properly—if this happens to me and there’s food in the cat’s dish, I’m pretty much done.

Honestly, I think couples are good for now. We’ve given them life’s 50% off sale, I think it’s enough. Am I mad about all these perks? Sure I am, but the one Spotify just emailed me about is the one I’ve decided to deal with today. My lists by the way are only scratching the goddamned surface. I suggest you read Dr. Bella DePaulo’s work for a much more thorough evaluation of all the ways our society prefers couples and doesn’t give a damn about people who are single.

It’s not just the perks. Of course it isn’t. It’s the constant reiteration to single people at every opportunity that they’re not as good as people in couples. Singles are less. If there aren’t two of you, you’re incomplete. We know you’re one entire person, but you’re still incomplete. Partner up or we’re going to look down on you. Get in here, single person, and couple up! It’s where we keep all the sweet discounts.

Singleness isn’t thought of very highly by our society. It starts with the fact that it’s seen as a temporary status. Everyone wants to feel and experience love, so anyone not currently in love must be trying to find it, at least in some capacity. Their singleness is just temporary, we don’t need to worry about them. But this ignores two things: First, not everyone wants to be in a couple, and second, for many of us, love is fucking hard to find. And whichever camp single people fall into, we’re reminded of how invalid society things our single status is by bullshit things like a Spotify discount you get just for being in love. As is being in love wasn’t reward enough, here’s an extra $3.50 a month just for grins.

Single people, don’t delete your Spotify accounts. We love Spotify, let’s keep using them, they’re (hopefully) helping artists earn money and grow their audiences. Let’s instead encourage them to be better. Let’s let Spotify know, via a tweet — or in my case, a 2,000-word Medium bitch — that we’d like to pay the same price that couples pay, because that is what’s fair.

Singlehood is a valid status, regardless of whether or not the single person holding it changes that status by entering a relationship at some point. Right now, in this moment, single people are just as valid and worthy as people in couples, but when you email them a discount they can’t take advantage of simply because they’re not in a relationship, you tell them something different. You tell them they’re less than the cohort of people you care about enough to make something special for. You tell single people they aren’t as good or worthy as coupled people.

And that’s when I will tell you that you’re wrong.

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Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, a lot.

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NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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