Spotify claims Apple's new App Store tax amounts to 'extortion'

This is an image of Spotify and Apple's App Store logos
(Image credit: Apple and Spotify)

On Friday, January 26, Spotify, the powerful digital music, podcast, and video service that is also one of Apple's sharpest critics, posted a highly critical response to Apple's plans to change its App Store and other services in Europe.   

According to the Verge, the Spotify post called Apple’s new plan to comply with the European Union’s tech regulations "a complete and total farce." 

That plan, which Apple was forced to implement due to the European Union's Digital Markets Act, or DMA, not only included changes to Apple's App Store, but a host of other changes to other services, as well. Apple's changes will allow those in Europe, for now, to seek out alternative ways of downloading apps, games, and other services. But it remains to be seen if those changes will be implemented in other areas, such as the U.S.      

However, some, like Spotify, are highly skeptical of Apple's plan. For instance, Spotify's response, titled, "Time to Play Fair: Apple’s Proposed Changes Reject the Goals of the DMA, states that " Apple has just shown the world, they don’t think the rules apply to them." The response goes on to say that "Apple is nothing if not consistent. While they have behaved badly for years, this takes the level of arrogance to an entirely new place.... Essentially, the old tax was rendered unacceptable under the DMA, so they created a new one masquerading as compliance with the law." The new plan, Spotify believes, will unfairly punish some developers. 

The response goes on to state, "This is extortion, plain and simple."

Apple calls the tax a “Core Technology Fee”

Spotify also outlines specific gripes they have with Apple's plan, two of which relate to developers. Spotify says Apple is charging "a completely new 0.50 cent Euro fee per download, every year, in perpetuity." Spotify says that that's just for "allowing developers to exist on iOS." Spotify also criticizes Apple's plan because "Apple is still charging a 17% rent on developers for existing in the App Store if they offer alternative payment methods or link out to their own website." 

Spotify's conclusion: "Apple is forcing developers to stay with the status quo."

Yesterday, Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO, posted on X, that "after sitting with our legal team to parse through the fine print of Apple's DMA announcement (that took a while), which is, at best vague and misleading, I wanted to share my thoughts.... By inventing a new tax system to replace the old, Apple mocks the spirit of the law and the lawmakers who wrote it. I sincerely hope the EU recognizes this for exactly what it is and stands firm, and doesn’t let their work over the years all be for nothing. The world is watching."

Terry Sullivan

Terry Sullivan has tested and reported on many different types of consumer electronics and technology services, including cameras, action cams, mobile devices, streaming music services, wireless speakers, headphones, smart-home devices, and mobile apps. He has also written extensively on various trends in the worlds of technology, multimedia, and the arts. For more than 10 years, his articles and blog posts have appeared in a variety of publications and websites, including The New York Times, Consumer Reports, PCMag, Worth magazine, Popular Science, Tom’s Guide, and Artnews. He is also a musician, photographer, artist, and teacher.