Music streaming service Spotify has reached a seemingly unique and very generous deal with Google for Android-based payments, according to new testimony in the Epic vs. Google rehearsal. On the stand, Google’s head of global partnerships, Don Harrison, confirmed that Spotify paid a 0 percent commission when users decided to purchase subscriptions through Spotify’s own system. If users chose Google as their payment processor, Spotify gave them 4 percent, dramatically less than Google’s more common 15 percent fee.
Google fought to keep Spotify’s numbers private during its antitrust fight with Epic, saying they could hurt negotiations with other app developers who might want more generous rates. Google’s User Choice Billing program, launched in 2022, is generally described as reducing Google’s Play Store commission by around 4 percent if developers use their own payment system, reducing the service fee. subscription from 15 percent of Google to more than 11 percent. This often ends up saving developers little to no money as they must cover the cost of payment processing themselves. And in court, Google has focused on benefits like greater flexibility rather than cost savings.
But Harrison says Spotify’s “unprecedented” popularity was great enough to justify a “bespoke” deal. “If Spotify doesn’t work properly on Play services and core services, people won’t buy Android phones,” Harrison testified. As part of the deal, both sides also agreed to commit $50 million each to a “success fund.”
Google acknowledged Harrison’s testimony in a statement to The edge. “A small number of developers who invest more directly in Android and Play may have different service fees as part of a broader partnership that includes substantial financial investments and product integrations in different form factors,” says spokesperson Dan Jackson. “These key investment partnerships allow us to attract more users to Android and Play by continually improving the experience for all users and creating new opportunities for all developers.”
Spotify has frequently complained about in-app purchase fees in the past. In mid-2023, he completely dropped support for Apple’s App Store billing system to avoid paying up to a 30 percent commission, and was one of the highest-profile early members of the Coalition for App Fairness, a group that included Epic and supported the fortnite publisher’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple and Google. But while Epic has continued its legal battle against both sides, Spotify has apparently found an easier (and much cheaper) way out of the fight with Google.