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Tidal's new family discount matches Spotify -- but Apple Music still cheaper

Jay Z's subscription music service halves the price for members who join an existing account, which matches competitors like Spotify. But Apple still offers the best deal for families.

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Rapper Jay Z relaunched Tidal in March, with wife Beyonce and other megastar artists signing on as co-owners. Getty Images

After critics berated Tidal for its star-studded relaunch that asked fans to cough up more cash to its millionaire owners, Jay Z's streaming music service unveiled a family discount Wednesday that could save you some dough -- though Apple Music remains the better deal for the whole household.

Tidal said it would cut the price 50 percent for each person added to a single account. That matches the plan offered by Spotify, which is the leader in subscription music globally with more than 20 million paying members. But the costs stack up quickly compared with Apple Music's $15-a-month offer that lets the whole gang join.

The Tidal plan underscores one of the few areas where subscription music services have a little wiggle room to differentiate themselves. Despite the attention around artists like Taylor Swift pulling songs off particular services and hype about sound quality, subscriber trends at these services indicate consumers tend not to make their purchase decisions based on catalog or audio quality. So in the last year and a half, services have begun to offer different pricing levels granting varying levels of listening privilege and perks. But all music services are constrained by what rights holders like the music labels will allow.

On Tidal's $10-a-month standard tier, two people pay $15 per month under the family plan, three people would pay $20, and so forth, up to five people total. The same structure applies to the service's "HiFi" tier, which has higher-quality audio: Instead of the regular $20 rate for a single subscriber, adding additional members to one account racks up $10 more each. That graduated pricing format is comparable to Spotify.

But if your "family" is bigger than just two people, the costs of Tidal's plan start to stack up compared with Apple Music. The Apple service launched last month as a revamp of Beats Music and iTunes Radio offers a plan that lets up to six total people join one $15-a-month account.