Spotify Seeking An End To Apple Music's "Anti-Competition" Practices

Yolanda Curtis
March 14, 2019

Spotify's agitation about Apple's App Store, which stretches back several years, centers on its claims that Apple abuses its position both as a direct competitor to Spotify and as the owner of its powerful app marketplace.

Apple should be probed by the European Union's antitrust agency over how it allegedly squeezes rival music streaming services, Spotify Technology SA said, escalating a debate over how Apple takes a cut of sales on its App Store. It argues that Apple both has a vested interest in promoting its own services, such as Apple Music, and the opportunity to potentially limit those of rivals.

Spotify's beef with Apple centers on a 30 percent tax it and other digital services have to pay whenever they use Apple's "in-app" payment system to process user purchases such as upgrading subscriptions.

At the time, Spotify's then-Head of Global Head of Communications and Public Policy, Jonathan Prince, said: "You know there's something wrong when Apple makes more off a Spotify subscription than it does off an Apple Music subscription and doesn't share any of that with the music industry".

"We aren't seeking special treatment", he said in a blog post.

Spotify is now asking for EC's intervention into the whole matter as its talk with Apple regarding the issue didn't produce desired results."After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition", CEO Daniel Ek said. He states that "Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades".

Ek says that Spotify wants the same treatment as other App Store apps like Uber and Deliveroo, "who aren't subject to the Apple tax and therefore don't have the same restrictions".

Apple has been approached for comment.

Apple controls what's allowed into its app store and how those programs can interact with its users, but it also competes with streaming music providers directly via Apple Music.

The restrictions, according to Ek, limit Spotify's communication, disallowing the music streaming platform to send emails to its customers who use Apple in some cases. The first is a requirement introduced in 2011 that all iPhone app makers exclusively use Apple's payment system.

A spat between the companies that operate two of the biggest music streaming services in the world has landed at the doorstep of the European Union, which has been taking an increasingly tough stance lately against antitrust-related issues involving United States tech companies. He reckons the Apple-licensed "App Store" should remain objectively unbiased with the market place should remain inconquerable. Then there were other issues, where Apple would not allow Spotify to have an Apple Watch app or work with Siri. It's not something we ever have-or will-shy away from. We want the same fair rules for companies young and old, large and small.

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