Apple Music and labels cleared of streaming market abuse by EU

September 2015

Recorded music, streaming


Re-Code reports that the European Commission failed to find evidence of collusion among the major music labels and Apple to quash free music streaming services such as those offered by Spotify. Investigators examined whether the labels conspired with one another or with Apple on Apple’s new streaming Apple Music service in a way that would damage rival services. The EU had questioned the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — seeking details about their licensing discussions with Apple. The probe examined whether the music industry executives and Apple were working to stifle free offerings from services like Spotify, which uses its ad-supported service to entice listeners to buy a subscription. Spotify was under pressure by the major labels to move more of its listeners to its paid tier, though the pressure appears to have receded amid the inquiries.
The EU will continue to monitor the market and investigators’ files will remain open as licensing talks continue between Spotify and some of the major labels
Separately, the EU has asked Spotify and other music streaming services for information pertaining to Apple’s mobile App Store. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission similarly is exploring whether Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps in the App Store violate antitrust laws. The s said to be looking into questions surrounding Apple’s treatment of rival apps in its store. Apple takes a 30 percent cut on purchases for digital goods made within the app — which include streaming subscriptions. Competing services have complained this policy forces them to charge more or sacrifice profits. Other policies prohibit using the app to inform consumers that they can buy directly from the company’s website, or offering variable pricing (say, a discounted family plan or a student plan).

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