Spotify’s EU Lobbying Expenses Approached $1 Million Last Year Amid App Store Crusade, Data Shows

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek comments during Investor Day 2022
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek comments during Investor Day 2022
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Photo Credit: Spotify

Amid a continued push for regulatory action against the App Store in both the United States and Europe, Spotify dropped nearly $1 million on EU lobbying efforts last year, according to recently released data.

The Stockholm-headquartered platform’s sizable lobbying expenditures came to light on LobbyFacts, a project of European Union lobbying watchdogs Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl. According to the resource, which pulls pertinent self-reported data from the EU’s transparency register, Spotify during 2022 racked up between €800,000 and €899,999 ($861,363 and $969,032 at the present exchange rate) in EU “lobbying costs.”

That’s the same range LobbyFacts identified for 2021, but represents a substantial boost from the €650,000 in EU lobbying expenses that Spotify declared for 2019. (The appropriate profile doesn’t display the streaming giant’s lobbying costs for the pandemic-impacted 2020.) Meanwhile, the Rockstar Energy-partnered company disclosed three full-time lobbyists acting on its behalf and has per the profile participated in 73 high-level European Commission meetings to date.

The latter excludes any “lobby meetings with lower-level staff” and isn’t necessarily indicative of policy-significant sit downs. Within the handful of high-level meetings attributed to Spotify during 2022, for instance, one July outing concerned the “preparation of the September meeting with CEO” Daniel Ek, who personally traveled to Brussels nine months back.

Of course, Spotify’s long-running campaign against App Store fees and rules is hardly a secret; the service first targeted the Apple Music parent in an EU competition complaint more than four years ago. On the heels of the above-outlined lobbying initiatives, the European Commission in late February of 2023 narrowed the corresponding inquiry’s scope to focus specifically on the music streaming space.

Stateside, Ek in April of this year visited Washington to lobby for the Open App Markets Act, bipartisan legislation (introduced in August of 2021) that according to its text aims “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.”

But evidence suggests that Spotify – which is leaning into (and has touted the unprecedented creative implications of) artificial intelligence – is likewise working to protect its AI interests as the EU moves closer to the passage of the aptly named AI Act. LobbyFacts shows that two of the business’s three high-level Commission meetings to this point in 2023 have involved artificial intelligence.

Worth mentioning in conclusion is the still-surging stock price of Spotify (NYSE: SPOT), which today cracked a new 52-week high of $154.55 per share – reflecting a close to 90 percent upswing since 2023 kicked off and an approximately 94 percent hike during the last six months.