Spotify tests Apple’s resolve with new pricing update in the EU

It’s a post-Digital Markets Act (DMA) world, and Spotify continues to test what that means for its iOS app. The music streamer announced that it submitted an update for Apple’s approval that would allow Spotify to display “basic pricing and website information” on its app in Europe and “the bare minimum outlined under the European Commission’s ruling in its music streaming case.” Within a few hours, Apple had rejected the update.

In the news, shared in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Spotify’s chief public affairs officer Dustee Jenkins further stated, “By charging developers to communicate with consumers through in-app links, Apple continues to break European law. It’s past time for the Commission to enforce its decision so that consumers can see real, positive benefits.”

In the hours following Spotify’s stunt, Apple swiftly moved to reject the update. In a response sent to Spotify and shared with Engadget, the company said the following:

Hello team at Spotify,

We are reaching out to let you know about new information regarding your app, Spotify – Music and Podcasts, version 8.9.33.

As you may be aware, Apple created a new Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) for iOS and iPadOS music streaming apps offered in EEA storefronts. The entitlement allows music streaming apps to use buttons, external links, or other calls to action to direct customers to a purchase mechanism on a website owned or controlled by the developer. You must accept its terms before adding any of these capabilities to your app. Please find more information about the entitlement here.

We note that your current submission includes a call to action to purchase a Spotify subscription on your website. As such, you must accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and include the entitlement profile in your app for submission. To be clear, this entitlement is required even if your app does not include an external link (nor does it require that you offer an external link). We will, however, approve version 8.9.33 after you accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and resubmit it for review.

If you have any questions about this information, please reply to this message to let us know.

Best regards,

App Review

Spotify is — surprise! — not pleased with this development. A spokesperson for the company told Engadget that “Apple has once again defied the European Commission’s decision, rejecting our update for attempting to communicate with customers about our prices unless we pay Apple a new tax.” They added that Apple’s “disregard for consumers and developers is matched only by their disdain for the law.”

Apple and Spotify have consistently butted heads over what the latter can and can’t do with its iOS app. Following the DMA going into effect, Spotify submitted an update to Apple that would have allowed users to purchase plans directly from the app, but Apple rejected it. Apple did so even though the European Union had just hit it with a nearly $2 billion fine for “blocking” alternative music apps. The EU is also investigating Apple, Meta and Google for self-preferencing and charging developers additional fees.

Update, April 25 2024, 2:50PM ET: This story has been updated twice since publishing. The first update, at 8:45AM ET, included Spotify’s reaction to Apple’s rejection. The second update, published at 2:50PM ET, included a letter sent by Apple to Spotify.

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