In the ongoing Epic vs. Google trial, a testimony from Google’s head of global partnerships, Don Harrison confirmed that Spotify was subject to a unique commission structure, the media has reported. While on the witness stand, Harrison verified that Spotify paid 0 commission when users opted to purchase subscriptions through its proprietary payment system. However, if users selected Google as their payment processor, Spotify agreed to pay a reduced commission of 4 per cent, which is a substantial decrease from Google’s typical 15 per cent fee for such transactions, says a report by The Verge.
This testimony by Harrison highlights the secret payment arrangements between Spotify and Google to bypass Android’s app store fees.
As part of the agreement, both Spotify and Google committed $50 million to a “success fund”.
In the midst of the antitrust battle with Epic, Google sought to keep Spotify’s financial details confidential, expressing concerns about potential harm to ongoing negotiations with other app developers. This strategic move aimed to safeguard sensitive information and maintain a competitive edge in dealings with various app creators.
Notably, Google’s introduction of the User Choice Billing programme in 2022 was aimed to mitigate concerns around its Google Play Store commission structure. If developers use their own payment system, it brings down Google’s 15 per cent subscription service fee to more like 11 per cent, the report added.
According to Harrison, Swedish music streaming giant Spotify’s immense popularity as the reason for a deal. He further entioned that if Spotify did not work well on Android, users might avoid buying Android handsets.
It should be noted that Spotify has been vocal about its discontent with in-app purchase fees, taking a significant step in the middle of 2023 by discontinuing support for Apple’s App Store billing system to circumvent potential fees of up to 30 per cent. As
one of the notable early participants in the Coalition for App Fairness, alongside Epic, which backed Fortnite publisher’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple and Google, Spotify actively voiced concerns about fair app marketplace practices. However, in contrast to Epic’s ongoing legal confrontation with both tech giants, Spotify appears to have opted for a simpler and more cost-effective resolution to its issues with Google.