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Dr. Dre, family man

by David MacQueen | 1月 21, 2014

Today AT&T launched its smartphone family plan bundled with music for the entire family. The partner was Beats Music, the streaming music service set up partly by entrepreneur and rapper Dr. Dre. The good doctor isn’t exactly synonymous with family friendly lyrics; perhaps parents signing up to the plan may prefer their children listen to this “clean” version of one of Dr. Dre’s earlier hits recorded while he was with NWA (I won’t even put the original name of the song as it’s more than a little rude!).

Flippancy aside, although family plans are increasingly becoming common for mobile voice and data, a family plan for media of any sort is rather unusual, at least in the digital age. Older readers may remember the days when families sat together round the TV, or even the radio (remember when that was the wireless technology over which music was delivered?) and wonder why a family plan is a big deal. But in this modern age, where media access is more typically controlled at the individual user level, or even at the level of the individual device, it does represent a change from what is rapidly becoming the normal way to consumer digital media. 

Offering family plans for media makes a lot of sense. Parents often buy smartphones or tablets for their children, but pocket money budgets don’t necessarily allow children to purchase music or movies or whatever else. Perhaps this is one reason that children (cash-poor but time-rich) are willing to spend hours digging through pirate sites and torrents to find the latest music or TV episodes.

AT&T and Beats Music aren’t entirely alone in offering a family plan for digital media. RDIO also offers a family plan, and the movie industry’s digital service, Ultraviolet, allows access to 6 people by default and is clearly aimed at providing entertainment for the family. These exceptions are few, but could gain traction, bringing back a level of social interaction not provided solely by Facebook…

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