Spotify is booting legacy subscribers still paying via Apple’s App Store

Affected Spotify Premium subscribers can re-subscribe after their account has been moved to the free membership tier. | Nick Barclay / The Verge

It’s been over seven years since Spotify stopped allowing new customers to subscribe to its Premium tier membership through Apple’s in-app purchase system, and now the streaming giant is dropping support for the payment method entirely. As reported by Variety, Spotify has recently emailed legacy Premium subscribers who are still paying through the Apple App Store to notify them that they will need to resubscribe to the service using an alternative payment system, like PayPal or a credit card, at the end of their final billing period.

“We’re contacting you because when you joined Spotify Premium you used Apple’s billing service to subscribe. Unfortunately, we no longer accept that billing method as a form of payment,” Spotify said in the email, informing affected customers that their account will be automatically switched to the platform’s free, ad-supported service after the final payment has been taken. “If you wish to keep your Premium subscription, you will need to re-subscribe after your last billing period has ended and your account has been moved on to the Free account.”

In a statement to Variety, a Spotify spokesperson confirmed that the company has started notifying “a small number of users that a legacy payment method, that their Premium account is attached to, is being deprecated.” According to the spokesperson, these actions will “help ensure that [it] can continue to provide a consistent best-in-class subscription experience for all our users.”

Spotify stopped accepting Premium subscriptions via the App Store in 2016 to avoid paying up to a 30 percent commission to Apple for in-app purchases, just under two years after the audio streaming company had introduced the payment system to its platform. Customers who subscribed via the App Store were charged an additional $3 per-month to prevent Apple’s fee from cutting into Spotify’s revenue.

Spotify later filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union in 2019, arguing that the iPhone maker’s App Store policies were harming competition. The streamer had also taken issue with a similar fee for Google’s Play Store, but last year Spotify and Google announced a pilot program that would give Spotify customers the choice of paying using either Spotify’s or Google’s payment system in select markets. Google is still charging a fee for these purchases, but has said it’s reduced by 4 percent versus the standard rate.

The update to App Store payments is unlikely to affect many of Spotify’s existing customers. In 2019, Variety notes that Apple published a regulatory filing revealing it had collected subscription payment fees for 680,000 Spotify subscribers — less than one percent of Spotify’s 100 million Premium subs at that time. As of Spotify’s Q4 earnings report for 2022, the service has since surpassed 200 million paid subscribers.

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