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Spotify's second iOS app update attempt in EU fails to pass App Store review

Spotify's app in the EU

A update to Spotify's app in the App Store is on hold, after the streaming service failed to follow rules allowing links to external sites for purchases.

Apple has already made a number of changes to its App Store rules, primarily to comply with EU legislation like the Digital Markets Act. While Apple has laid out new rules developers must follow to perform specific actions, not all apps have gone down the correct route.

An App Review email sent to Spotify and viewed by AppleInsider states that version 8.9.33 of Spotify's app was halted from publication to the App Store.

The email explains that Apple created a Music Streaming Services Entitlement for the European Economic Area storefronts, affecting iOS and iPadOS music streaming apps. The entitlement allows streaming services to use external links, buttons, and calls to action to drive users to a developer's website, so they could make a purchase outside of Apple's In-App Purchase mechanism.

Below is the entire text of what we've seen. We have authenticated its provenance.

Hello team at Spotify

We are reaching out to let you know about new information regarding your app, Spotify - Music and Podcasts, version 8.9.33.

As you may be aware, Apple created a new Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) for iOS and iPadOS music streaming apps offered in EEA storefronts. The entitlement allows music streaming apps to use buttons, external links, or other calls to action to direct customers to a purchase mechanism on a website owned or controlled by the developer. You must accept its terms before adding any of these capabilities to your app. Please find more information about the entitlement here.

We note that your current submission includes a call to action to purchase a Spotify subscription on your website. As such, you must accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and include the entitlement profile in your app for submission. To be clear, this entitlement is required even if your app does not include an external link (nor does it require that you offer an external link). We will, however, approve version 8.9.33 after you accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and resubmit it for review.

If you have any questions about this information, please reply to this message to let us know.

Best regards,

App Review

Before developers can add those links and buttons, they must accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and add the entitlement profile as part of the App Store review submission.

While Apple hasn't allowed version 8.9.33 into the storefront just yet, it's not completely rejected. The App Review team does say that the update can be resubmitted after Spotify accepts the terms of the entitlement.

It is unclear if the app will be blocked in other territories, but since it is an EEA-specific issue, it should be allowed elsewhere.

Spotify has previously complained about Apple's lengthy delays in reviewing updates submitted to the App Store. In March, Spotify complained that Apple had failed to respond about the app update after nine days of waiting.

What is the Music Streaming Services Entitlement

According to Apple's developer support pages, the entitlement means streaming services can include a link to a developer-owned website that can advise of other ways to purchase digital goods or services. In short, instead of using the In App Payments process, the app can instead take payment from their own purchasing system.

To qualify for the entitlement, the app must primarily offer music streaming services, have selected Music as their primary app category, and be available in the iOS and iPadOS App Store for an EEU storefront.

The app also must not use the StoreKit External Link Account Entitlement profile, which is effectively the same thing for other app types. The app also cannot participate in the Video Partner Program or News Partner Program.

Apps must pay Apple a commission of 27% on purchases made through this alternative process. This is slightly lower than the usual 30% fee for direct App Store payments.

However, if the app is a participant in the Small Business Program, or the transaction is an auto-renewal in the second year or later of an auto-renewing subscription, the commission drops to 12%.