Apple Music launch sparks anti-trust investigation and indie label backlash

July 2015

Recorded music, internet, music publishing



Apple has launched its Apple Music streaming service at this year’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. Headline news is that the new platform will be available from 30th June for $9.99 a month, after a free three months period – with a ‘family’ package costing $14.99 a month for up to six family members sharing with the service promising to “change the way you experience music forever”, initially available on iOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version following in autumn.
Opening his presentation by explaining ““So now, 2015, music industry is a fragmented mess. Do you wanna stream music? You can go over here. If you wanna stream video, you can check some of these places out. If you wanna follow some artists, there’s more confusions with that… So I reached out to [Apple executives] Tim Cook and Eddy Cue and said ‘guys, can we build a bigger and better ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do?”, Interscope Records / Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine promised “one complete thought” around music. Labelled a “revolutionary music service”, the new service aims to streamline the experience of enjoying music. It also allows artists to share music directly with fans. “When you upload your music to Apple Music, anything can happen,” says Iovine. The core of Apple Music will be a catalogue of millions of songs and music videos to stream on-demand, as well as a wide variety of programmed playlists created by its in-house team of editors, and by musicians. In August 2014 Apple bought Beats for $3 Billion.

will allow artists to publish and post their music directly to fans, with pushes to Facebook and Twitter and they can also share behind-the-scenes photos, lyrics and additional cuts like remixes, with Drake explaining the artist’s perspective, saying how the internet has changed the game for musicians – including his ability to bring music directly to fans: “The dream of being a new artist like myself five years ago and connecting directly with an audience has never been more close and reachable than now”.
Eddy Cue explaindd the Apple Music iPhone app: here users will be able to search their existing music library, as well as the wider Apple Music library, along with a feature called “For You” that recommends playlists and albums “that you’re going to love.. and it isn’t just algorithms. It’s recommendations made by real people who love music, and they’re our team of experts”. Playlists will be sorted by genre or activity.
Apple Music includes a worldwide 24-hour radio station called Beats1 which will be broadcast from three cities – LA, New York, London –  with ex- BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe amongst the hosts. Julie Adenuga will host live from London.
The launch closed with a performance from The Weeknd’s new single ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’.
But in the wake of the launch The Attorneys Generals of New York and Connecticut are investigating Apple and several major music labels to determine whether their negotiations over the new streaming service violated antitrust law. Eric Schneiderman of New York and George Jepsen of Connecticut are probing whether the tech giant pressured the labels, or whether the companies conspired with one another, to stop supporting “freemium” rival services like Spotify, the New York Times reports. Universal Music Group confirmed it was cooperating with investigators, but denied that it had colluded with Apple, according to a letter sent by the label’s attorneys to Schneiderman’s office. The label also said it had no agreements with Sony Music Entertainment or Warner Music Group to “impede the availability of third-party free or ad-supported music streaming services.”
Previously allegations that Apple is using its iTunes market dominance to put pressure on the major record labels to force the likes of Spotify to abandon their ‘freemium’ music streaming models to give Apple’s Beats service an leg up resulted in the US Department of Justice interviewing high-level executives at the major labels about Apple’s business practices. According to The Verge, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is aking the lead. The New York Post had already claimed that the European Union’s Competition Commission is probing the tech firm regards its alleged meddlings in the streaming music space – and it will be interesting to see how the Google owned YouTube, which pays comparatively low royalties, will be considered. The Verge now cites one label source as remarking regards Apple’s negotiating tactics: “All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat”.
Apple’s objective of paying no royalties to either the three major labels or the independent labels during the free three month launch period has prompted angry comment not least as to why musicians and labels are subsidising the world’s most valuable company.  The American Association Of Independent Music has posted its thoughts on Apple Music’s objective saying “Since a sizable percentage of Apple’s most voracious music consumers are likely to initiate their free trails at launch, we are struggling to understand why rights holders would authorise their content on the service before 1 st Oct. This is especially true in light of the potential revenue damage to a music label’s iTunes download revenues and impact on their cash flow”. and and



No Comments

Comments are closed.