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Facing the music: Spotify hikes fees in France to highest in Europe

Spotify logo. March 20, 2018.
Spotify logo. March 20, 2018. Copyright Patrick Semansky/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Patrick Semansky/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Eleanor Butler
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The platform is passing on its tax burden after the French government introduced a levy to support the nation’s music industry.

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Spotify increased its prices on Tuesday for new customers in France in response to the government's 'streaming tax'.

The monthly premium subscription will be raised by 13 cents to €11.12, while the family plan will rise to €18.21 a month, a 22 cent increase. The student subscription will go up by 7 cents a month to €6.06. 18 cents will be also added to the two-person plan, bringing it to €15.17.

For customers already subscribed, they will pay more from June onwards, rather than seeing a change this week.

The move means that Spotify users in France will pay more than subscribers in any other EU member state, a move the platform previously warned against.

"As we have long said, we simply can’t absorb any additional taxes," Spotify said after the introduction of France’s 'streaming tax' last year.

In December, the government announced that companies in the audio streaming sector whose sales exceed €20 million would have to pay a contribution worth 1.2% of their revenue earned in France.

The levy, which should bring in around €15 million, will go towards France’s 'Centre National de la Musique' which in turn supports the country’s music industry through research and subsidies.

"Spotify has proudly championed French artists for the past 15 years," said a press statement from the audio platform released in March. "We certainly didn’t wait for the CNM to be created in 2020 to help artists find success in France and outside of France."

Due to the new tax, Spotify nonetheless stressed that it would be "required to give approximately two-thirds of every euro" it generates to rights holders and the French government.

Without raising consumer prices, this is a situation it deems untenable.

In response to the streaming tax, a number of opponents including Apple, Deezer, Meta, Spotify, TikTok and YouTube suggested an alternative voluntary contribution scheme last year to fund France's music scene - an idea that was rejected.

Spotify subsequently cut their support for two French music events: the Francofolies de La Rochelle and the Printemps de Bourges festivals.

The tax announcement came at the end of a year when Spotify had been focusing on cost cutting.

In 2023, the firm laid off around 2,000 employees, about a quarter of its workforce.

At the end of March this year, Spotify reported net income of €197 million on a revenue of €3.6 billion in the first three months of 2024.

The firm lost €225 million on €3 billion in revenue over the same period last year.

Although French consumers do face the highest Spotify fees in the EU, it's also worth noting that listeners in the UK pay even more for their plans.

The premium subscription costs £11.99 (€14.11) per month, while the the two-person plan costs £16.99 (€19.99). The monthly family package costs £19.99 (€23.52), and the student plan costs £5.99 (€7.05) per month.

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