Spotify Makes Secret Deal with Google to Bypass Android App Store Fees
Music streaming service Spotify made a unique and generous deal with Google for Android-based payments. During the Epic v. Google trial, Google head of global partnerships Don Harrison confirmed that Spotify paid a 0 percent commission when users chose to buy subscriptions through Spotify’s own system. If the users picked Google as their payment processor, Spotify handed over 4 percent — much less than Google’s more common 15 percent fee.
Google initially wanted to keep the Spotify numbers private during its antitrust fight with Epic, citing potential damage to negotiations with other app developers who might want similar rates. Google’s User Choice Billing program, launched in 2022, typically reduces Google’s Play Store commission by about 4 percent if developers use their own payment system. In court, Google focused on benefits like greater flexibility rather than cost savings.
Spotify’s “unprecedented” popularity justified a “bespoke” deal with Google, according to Don Harrison. As part of the deal, both parties also agreed to commit $50 million apiece to a “success fund.”
Google acknowledged Harrison’s testimony in a statement to The Verge. The statement highlighted the benefits of key investment partnerships in terms of bringing more users to Android and Play.
Spotify has previously complained about in-app purchase fees and took a different approach compared to Epic in avoiding the legal battle with Google.