In the ongoing Epic v. Google trial, recent testimony reveals that Spotify entered into a special arrangement with Google.
Under this agreement, Spotify is exempt from paying any commission to Google when users subscribe through the music streaming service’s proprietary payment system on Android. Additionally, as part of the same deal, Spotify incurs only a 4% commission fee to Google if users sign up for the service through the Google platform. This contrasts sharply with the standard 15% commission charged by the Google Play Store for subscriptions by most other apps.
Google’s partnerships head Don Harrison reportedly said that this is because users would buy fewer phones without music.
Listening to music is one of [the phone’s] core purposes… if we don’t have Spotify working properly across Play services and core services, people will not buy Android phones.
During court proceedings, Harrison added that as part of the agreement between Google and Spotify, both companies committed to contributing $50 million each to a “success fund.”
These statements emerged within the context of a lawsuit initially initiated by Epic Games against Google in 2020. Epic Games, the creator of the immensely popular Fortnite, alleged that Google’s Play Store on Android constituted an illegal monopoly, compelling app developers to pay substantial amounts for providing in-app purchases through the Play Store.
Epic Games pursued a parallel lawsuit against Apple in 2021, which it ultimately did not win.
A Google spokesperson explained this further:
A small number of developers that 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 across different form factors. These key investment partnerships allow us to bring more users to Android and Play.
Spotify originally sided with Epic in its legal dispute against Google, but in 2022, the music app embraced Google’s User Choice Billing program, allowing Android apps to employ their payment systems while granting Google a reduced share. This highlighted Google’s readiness to establish extra exceptions, especially for prominent apps like Spotify.