Spotify is suspending existing App Store subscribers as the platform no longer accepts Apple’s billing service as a valid form of payment, even for legacy customers.
Spotify has long railed against Apple’s “tax” on purchases through the App Store, and since May 2016 has banned new premium subscribers from paying for the streaming service with in-app purchases through Apple’s App Store. From June 2014 to May 2016, Spotify Premium subscribers could choose to sign up and pay through Apple’s billing service. Spotify is now advising these customers that they must choose an alternative payment method.
In recent emails to these subscribers, Spotify said, “When you subscribed to Spotify Premium, you subscribed using Apple’s billing service.” Unfortunately, we no longer accept this billing method as a form of payment.”
The email explains that their account will “automatically switch to our free, ad-supported service” at the end of their most recent billing cycle, and that customers who wish to keep their premium subscription will need to re-subscribe using one of the payment methods Spotify accepts, among others Credit cards and PayPal.
A spokesman for Spotify revealed that the company recently began “notifying a small number of users that an old payment method associated with their premium account is obsolete.” Users who are notified via email are switching from their automatically to a free account next billing cycle. Users will then have the option to upgrade to a premium account by logging into their account at Spotify.com.”
“These actions will help ensure we continue to deliver a consistently premium subscription experience to all of our users,” added the Spotify spokesperson.
Spotify has an ongoing dispute with Apple over its allegations of anti-competitive tactics in its app store policies. In 2019, Spotify filed a formal complaint with the European Commission, accusing Apple of unfairly restricting choice and competition through its App Store.
While Spotify has also objected to Google’s Play Store policy of charging a percentage fee on purchases, the two companies announced a multi-year agreement that would allow users who downloaded the Spotify Android app from the Google Play Store to gives the choice to either pay with Spotify’s payment system or Google Play billing.
Few users will be affected by Spotify dropping support for Apple in-app purchases altogether. In a 2019 regulatory filing, Apple said it only charged 680,000 of Spotify’s more than 100 million premium subscribers a 15% fee on subscription payments.