Postmortem: iTunes Affiliate for apps

April 10 2019 by Jeff Johnson

The iTunes Affiliate Program for apps paid registered Affiliates a percentage of app sales that resulted from links to the Apple App Store from the Affiliate's web site. The iTunes Affiliate Program still exists for music, books, movies, and TV shows, but Apple ended the program for apps on October 1 2018. Yesterday, six months later, I finally got paid the remaining balance owed to me as an iTunes Affiliate. Getting paid was an ordeal that took many emails from me to the iTunes Affiliate Program. I know that some developers still haven't gotten paid fully, so I hope this blog post helps them to recover their money.

The iTunes Affiliate Program makes payments according to currency. If you sell your app in every App Store region, there many different currencies. I had balances in at least 20 forms of currency. The payments to me are all converted to US dollars, but their payment system is organized by currency, and each currency has a minimum payment threshold. If I recall correctly, the payment threshold was $30, so if your balance in one currency is less than the threshold, you don't get paid from that balance, and the iTunes Affiliate Program just hoards your money until you reach the threshold. I think you can see the problem here: Apple ended the iTunes Affiliate Program for apps, and I didn't have any Affiliate links for non-apps, so my currency balances would never reach the threshold.

When I contacted iTunes Affiliate Support in November, they said:

Regarding App Store commissions, we will waive the payment threshold requirement as a one-time courtesy for impacted partners. These payments will be available to you approximately 60 days thereafter with our regularly scheduled invoice cycle. You will be able to release these payments once they have been received by Performance Horizon and processed, assuming the commission amounts have met criteria set by our payments provider.

This seemed fine at the time. I thought I would eventually get paid for my remaining balances, and some payments did indeed trickle out over the next couple of months. However, after more than 60 days I still had unpaid balances, so I contacted iTunes Affiliate Support again. They said:

All funds remaining are under the minimum 2 GBP threshold in each currency set by our payments provider and cannot be released.

Apparently the Performance Horizon Group that runs the iTunes Affiliate Program is based in England, which would explain why the threshold was specified in GBP. After I protested that they couldn't simply keep my money forever, and I threatened a lawsuit, they said:

The threshold is a system-enforced limitation we cannot circumvent. Per section 5.10 of the affiliate program terms and conditions, where the transfer of funds to a partner incurs bank charges, Partnerize reserves the right to pass on such charges to the partner. We could attempt to force the remainder of the transactions through, but please note per the above that it could result in additional fees to you which would render the additional funds negated. The standard thresholds are also again referenced in section 5.3.

That being said, we would be happy to do a manual adjustment of $50 USD of which you can generate a selfbill for any portion of that amount over the standard threshold and we can then close out your account. Again, nothing below this amount will be redeemable but this should hopefully address your concerns over any remaining funds. Please advise if this will meet your needs and we will proceed from there.

I was a bit confused about the $50, so I requested clarification, which they gave:

The $50 is intended as a courtesy blanket amount to help offset any funds you are currently unable to disburse.

I agreed to this, and it still took them almost two months to pay me, but I've finally got the $50 in my bank account. Fortunately, in my case the $50 did cover the remaining balances in currencies that were below the 2 GBP threshold, so I've finally been paid in full.

I recommend that those of you who participated in the iTunes Affiliate Program for apps login to your Affiliate account and check for unpaid balances. If you still have them, contact iTunes Affiliate Program and do what I did to get your money. Be persistent. Mention the $50 manual adjustment. If all else fails, threaten a lawsuit. They'll want to close your account, but don't let them close it until after you've been paid in full. Hopefully the $50 "courtesy" amount will cover your balances too. I wish you good fortune!

Jeff Johnson (My apps, PayPal.Me)