Apple and Spotify have been going at it tooth and nail, with the crux of the issue between them being the 30% ‘Apple Tax’ that is levied on revenue generated using Apple’s payment system. Due to its ongoing competition with Apple Music, Spotify has long advocated against the tax—they feel that Apple is holding a monopoly over other tech companies.
This eventually escalated to the point that Apple and Spotify both have dedicated articles refuting each other’s claims, with Spotify even going as far as creating a microsite: TimetoPlayFair. But how much of a monopoly is it, even? Spotify, according to The Verge, has 217 million monthly users, while Apple Music has around 40 million paid subscribers. Given their slightly differing payment models, it isn’t an exact comparison—but it conveys the message that it isn’t big bad Apple all the time.
In response to these allegations, Apple has responded in a filing with the European Commission that states that only 680,000 out of 100 million Spotify Premium customers are paying a tax of 15%. The filing further reveals that none of Spotify’s users, premium or free versions, are paying 30% in Apple’s tax.
The 30% tax that Apple imposes is only for the first year, while the rate drops to 15% in the ensuing years. This is something that the Spotify CEO failed to mention in his complaints, while Apple is also refuting claims that Spotify users that paid through the Spotify website (instead of through the App Store) stopped receiving emails and updates from Spotify.
However, Spotify isn’t the only company that’s making noise around the Apple Tax. In December of last year, Netflix stopped allowing iOS users from paying for subscriptions via the app:
“We no longer support iTunes as a method of payment for new members.”
Currently, Spotify is the world’s most popular audio streaming service with over 200 million members—however, only half (approximately) of their users are signed up with Spotify Premium.
While there is a certain degree of validity to Spotify’s complaints, the argument that Apple is monopolising the market does seem to ring empty, especially if we’re talking about music streaming services.