Spotify says Apple Music has an "unfair advantage," files complaint with the EC

Spotify says Apple Music has an
The founder and CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, announced today in a blog post (via Gizmodo) that Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC). The executive says that when it comes to Apple Music and the App Store, the company gives itself an unfair advantage, violating EC antitrust regulations. Ek says that Apple does this through the "Apple Tax." That is the 30% of monthly subscription fees that Apple takes on subscriptions made through its payment system.

Ek says that because Spotify is forced to pay the "Apple Tax," it has to raise its price in the App Store above that of Apple Music. Right now, both music streaming platforms have the same prices. That would be $9.99 a month for individuals, $14.99 a month for families with up to six members, and $4.99 a month for verified students. However, if you choose to pay your subscription fee through Apple (an in-app payment), Spotify charges $12.99 a month for individuals, $16.99 a month for families and $7.99 a month for verified students.

UPDATE: Apple has released a statement criticizing Spotify for using the App Store to help it grow over the years without making any contributions to that marketplace." The company refutes some of Spotify's claims. For example, Apple says that it has allowed Spotify to update the app over 200 times. Apple says it rejected updates when Spotify didn't follow the App Store rules. Apple also points out that 84% of the apps in the marketplace don't pay it a dime, and accuses Spotify of wanting all the benefits of a free app without being free."

Additionally, the executive says that if it bypasses Apple's payment system, Apple will limit Spotify's communications with its subscribers. For example, Ek says that in some cases Apple won't let it send emails to Spotify users who use the service on an Apple device. He states that "Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades. Over time, this has included locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch."


All Spotify wants, says its founder, is to be treated the same as apps that don't pay the 30% tax such as Uber or Deliveroo. The executive says that all apps should be able to compete fairly, and Apple Music shouldn't get an advantage because Apple owns the App Store. He adds that all App Store users should have a choice of payment systems, and not be locked into using Apple's platform. And Ek says that all app stores should not be allowed to control communications, including marketing and promotions, between services like Spotify and its customers.

If Apple is eventually found to have violated anti-trust regulations in the EU, it can be slapped with a fine and be forced to make some changes to the App Store.

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32 Comments

1. Kdk2020

Posts: 42; Member since: Apr 27, 2016

Apple playing dirty. Imagine my shock

3. sgodsell

Posts: 7384; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I know right. Image how developers felt when Apple said they were providing tools that would allow them to get access to their iMessages. Yet Apple limits what you can do with your own messages.

9. Mike88

Posts: 421; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

I think spotify is being a greedy azz here...why can't they lower it from their profit because the app store rule is same for everyone... Apple is providing devices, store and more reliable services...why do they want to keep their profits equal to apple music?? If they want subscribers in front of apple music which is so much better than spotify then they should keep their prices at half.

24. sgodsell

Posts: 7384; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

You have to be ignorant to side with Apple. Try to remember that Spotify was streaming music before Apple introduced their Apple Music streaming. Apple is wrong, period. It's one thing to own the App store, hardware and operating system (iOS). But Apple has abused their power, especially when Apple decided that what Spotify was doing, is really a great way to make money for a music service. So try to remember who offered music streaming first. It wasn't Apple, it was Spotify.

31. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

That’s idiotic, Apple deserves their cut everyone else Guess you don’t know that Apples 30% is low, cuz like google gets 45% of money from YouTube videos

26. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

It's not their pure profit, Spotify also need to pay billions each year for music license.. They just want Apple to allow subscriber pay spotify directly, just like on Android.

11. bigdawg23

Posts: 467; Member since: May 25, 2011

So Spotify should get free market? Go into retail stores, companies like Pepsi and Coke pay for their shelf space among others.

29. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

Exactly, that’s why coke and Pepsi products are never sold right next to each other in coolers that those companies had to pay for the space to sell their products

2. toukale

Posts: 633; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

I understand where spotify is coming from but I don't see their argument as a winning one. Apple is no doubt doing shady stuff on their platform, but they have been able to get away with it because Android is there. In Europe for example, Android has over 87% shares compare to iOS. On top of that Spotify is the 800 lb gorilla in the music streaming market. This is one example where market shares in deceiving, its all about buying power and Apple have a monopoly on the users with the most buying power. Spotify can make that case in the US, Japan etc. where iOS control about 50% of the market, not in Europe, where they don't even have 1/4 of the market.

4. tedkord

Posts: 17365; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Spotify's argument has nothing to do with market share. Its about Apple using its platform to give it's own service an advantage over the competition. The E.U. has laws about that, and they are much more stringent thsn in the US.

5. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 599; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

Yeah this could definitely tip a bit in Spots favor. Just a bit tho as like stated above apples been getting away with these tactics for a long time ...

30. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

Like google does with android If you think Spotify has a leg to stand on, then every android manufacturer should sue google cuz google prioritizes their own phones over the other manufacturers, shocker right Not Lol

32. tedkord

Posts: 17365; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Nice try, but no. Google let's manufacturers use and modify Android any way they like. If they want to include certain Google services, they have rules to follow, but neither the manufacturer nor the end user are locked into any of it. Totally different.

6. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

How is the Store tax an "unfair advantage"? How can Apple limit email communication between Spotify and its subscribers? Not even when the subscribers use icloud can't Apple block the communication... Spotify IS treated by iOS just like every other app. I sell stuff on my sites and my clients are using the payment system I think is the best, I simply don't care that they want to pay through SMS or bitcoins (I want to see someone telling Amazon to implement a different payment system). I see absolutely no violation here and I know the law in EU, because I need to know it.

7. Vokilam

Posts: 1221; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Same complaint different day - Spotify wants a free ride to use someone else’s platform to profit from and not pay for it!!! I’m sorry I don’t see how Spotify has any ground. Apple built its platform to profit from themselves. That’s the same as if I was running an advertising company and complain that google uses their own android platform to collect data and advertise on and not letting me do it for free.

8. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

"Apple built its platform to profit from themselves." Summed up pretty much. The EU is a garbage nanny state for business or otherwise. They try to cut Google off at the knees too.

10. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

It’s not an unfair advantage, it’s called profiting from apps running on their own phones from their own store If Spotify want to be such cry babies, they should trying making and selling their own Spotify phone with its own operating system they also make and make updates for and run their own App Store

12. iampun33t

Posts: 136; Member since: Apr 17, 2013

IMO it is an unfair advantage to Apple and Spotify is correct in complaining as Spotify cannot operate in the Apple ecosystem without paying the "Apple Tax". Which is basically the same as what Google was fined for. IMO they are correct in saying that the users should be free to pay by whatever means they want. Apple is okay to put a 30% or whatever charge on it, if they want, as its their payment system, but they cannot force Developers, like Spotify, to use their payment system and pay a tax, or get reduced services in their ecosystem. That is unfair practice.

13. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Apple doesn't do that - the user is free to subscribe through the web, direct debit, ATM (if and where it is available), cash etc.

14. Vancetastic

Posts: 1387; Member since: May 17, 2017

I wonder if Netflix will do the same when Apple launches their video streaming service.

15. midan

Posts: 2917; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Spotify is just scared and knows they can't compete in a long run. They don't have money, they already want to lower the royalties what artists are getting which says it all. Spotify doesn't have plan to make their service profitable, first time ever they made money with spotify last q. They know Apple music is big threath for them and that's why they do things like this.

16. Vancetastic

Posts: 1387; Member since: May 17, 2017

No, Spotify has a point. Apple can use their OWN APP store for their competing product, without having to pay. Apple just wants their greedy little fingers in every pie. It’s not illegal to be greedy, sure, but creating an unfair advantage like they have could be. Say...isn’t this kind of like what Apple is complaining about Qualcomm, in a roundabout way? Greed, greed, greed. I liked Apple better before the “must acquire vast amounts of money” era.

17. DolmioMan

Posts: 332; Member since: Jan 08, 2018

I think you’re forgetting that Apple Music is available on the google play store, so google gets a 30% cut of every subscription fee that goes through Android... so I guess since Apple is so greedy and Spotify have a point then next we’ll see Apple take google to court. Having Spotify on iOS enabled them to grow into a huge market that they couldn’t touch before. The sad truth is that Spotify has an objectively worse product but they essentially pioneered music streaming, but if it’s not profitable for them then unfortunately that’s tough tits. Good products are always copied, especially when you can’t patent any of the essential components.

19. Vancetastic

Posts: 1387; Member since: May 17, 2017

You’re assuming. I’m no fan of Google. My point is why Apple Music in the first place? Why an Apple video streaming service? Because they want more, more, more. I realize that the vast majority of companies are like this, but Apple used to stand for something different, and better, in my opinion.

18. nepalisherpa

Posts: 338; Member since: Jul 17, 2015

So what is Apple supposed to do? Charge 30% to themselves? Isn't that the same thing as not charging?

20. Vancetastic

Posts: 1387; Member since: May 17, 2017

They could just be content with being a damn trillion dollar company. That would be something.

22. nepalisherpa

Posts: 338; Member since: Jul 17, 2015

Apple is a business entity. Just like any other business entity, all they care about is maximizing profit. While in that process, if they charge 30% fee to use their Appstore platform then others will have to comply. Spotify can always choose to either not put their app on Appstore or have people subscribe through their website first. Businesses do not think with their "heart" like humans do. Heck, even we are greedy. We always want more, more, more.

21. vincelongman

Posts: 5699; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Oh wow, Apple's statement is so aggressive Apple's s**tting bricks because their Services has been where all their growth is And their TV streaming service is going to be the next target if this is successful Also they've been trying to get devs to switch to subscriptions instead of one off Hope the EU comes down hard on Apple (and Google too) 30% (and 15% the next years) is far too much IMO Should be ~3% like what Visa and Master card charge

23. afrohoxha

Posts: 255; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

"...and accuses Spotify of wanting all the benefits of a free app without being free" This reminds me of Apple wanting to use Qualcomm IP for free in an non free device. Hmm..

25. XiPingpong

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 26, 2019

Is this not the same as it was for Microsoft and their use of their Internet Explorer on their Windows, "unfair advantage"?

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