At $10 a month, Spotify premium hardly breaks the bank, but it's a little too much for some users. On desktop, the subscription simply enables ad-free listening and high-quality audio, but on mobile, the company has been sneaky.
Spotify intentionally built restrictions into its mobile app, forcing users to shuffle play songs and only allowing a limited amount of skips. Some users felt this was unfair, considering they listen to ads either way, and began to deliver cracked apps.
The Android apps deliver some of the premium features, including ad-free listening, unlimited track skipping, and high-quality audio. They don't let users download songs for offline use or use Spotify Connect.
After a long time of no action, Spotify has decided enough is enough. Users are reporting emails forcing them to uninstall the app or face consequences.
“We detected abnormal activity on the app you are using so we have disabled it. Don't worry – your Spotify account is safe,” reads the email. “To access your Spotify account, simply uninstall any unauthorized or modified version of Spotify and download and install the Spotify app from the official Google Play Store.”
“If we detect repeated use of unauthorized apps in violations of our terms, we reserve all rights, including suspending or terminatiing your account.”
It's not clear how many users make use of modified apps, but Spotify may be fighting a losing battle. Back in December of 2016, the company admitted that pirates were one of its core demographics, and they tend to find a way.
Even if a users account is banned, there's nothing to stop them signing up again with a new email and repeating the process. The real pressure will be on the app crackers, who are already facing DMCA takedown notices and will have to find measures to circumvent Spotify's detection methods.