×

Spotify Files Anti-Competition Complaint Against Apple in Europe

UPDATED: Spotify has filed an official complaint against Apple in Europe, contending that Apple unfairly limits choice and competition through the rules of its app store.

Spotify founder Daniel Ek outlined the reasons for the complaint in a post on the company’s website Wednesday titled “Consumers and Innovators Win on a Level Playing Field.”

“My goal for Spotify is and has always been to re-imagine the audio experience by giving consumers the best creativity and innovation we have to offer,” Ek wrote. “For that to be a reality, it is my firm belief that companies like ours must operate in an ecosystem in which fair competition is not only encouraged, but guaranteed.

“It’s why, after careful consideration, Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), the regulatory body responsible for keeping competition fair and nondiscriminatory. In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience—essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers. After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition.”

As an example of Apple’s allegedly unfair practices, Ek cited the 30% tax that Spotify and other digital services must pay on purchases made through Apple’s payment system, including when Spotify users upgrade from Free to Premium packages. Ek said that that put Spotify in the untenable position of having to raise prices for its customers, which it refuses to do.

The complaint also alleges that Apple routinely blocks Spotify’s upgrades, shutting it out from Siri and other services, and that Apple imposes other restrictions that can make it hard for Spotify to communicate with its users through the app.

Variety has reached out to Apple for comment.

Ek insisted that Spotify was not “seeking special treatment” and that “this is not a Spotify-versus-Apple issue.” He said Spotifying was requesting that “the same fair set of rules and restrictions” be applied to everyone – including Apple’s own Apple Music – and that app store users be given a choice of payment systems.

“We simply want the same treatment as numerous other apps on the App Store, like Uber or Deliveroo, who aren’t subject to the Apple tax and therefore don’t have the same restrictions,” he wrote.

During a conference call with reporters after the announcement, Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez and outside counsel Thomas Vinje of Clifford Chance generally repeated the talking points in Ek’s statement and the accompanying blog posts, however Gutierrez was asked several times about the timing of the move, considering the dispute began in 2015. He was also asked whether it was related to other factors, such as Apple’s upcoming new subscription offers, which are expected to include video and news services, or last week’s appeal to the U.S. Copyright Regulatory Board over a rate increase, in which Apple Music is the only major streaming service not participating.

He replied that the situation has “reached a point where we believe that in the absence of regulatory intervention will not just hurt us but also other developers.” He said the timing was “completely unrelated” to other factors and “coincidental,” and that the issues with Apple have been present for a number of years. He also declined to provide insight into whether the company will make a similar move in the U.S.

In answer to a question about whether the matter is really about competition, considering that Apple is much less dominant in Europe than in the U.S., Gutierrez praised Apple, saying “We ourselves respect and have licensed their products very much, it’s the way they’re behaving in the audio space with their role as the owner of the platform — they’re moving away from the neutrality that a platform is supposed to have.”

He declined to answer a question about the economic impact Apple’s policies have had on Spotify.

“This is not about picking a fight,” Gutierrez concluded. “It’s not about Spotify versus Apple. We believe we have no other choice, because Apple is in violation of the law.”

 

 

 

 

More Music

  • Danny Bennett, Tony Bennett, Sir Lucian

    Verve President Danny Bennett Steps Down as UMG Restructures Jazz and Classical Divisions

    Verve Label Group president/CEO Danny Bennett has stepped down, Universal Music Group announced Thursday. Oversight of Verve will be taken over by Dickon Stainer, president/CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz, who will add the labels to a stable that already includes heading up Deutsche Grammophon and the Decca Label Group. The restructuring was cited by the [...]

  • Exclusive All RoundMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Lennon Stella's Post-'Nashville' Pop Video Shows 'Bitch'-iness Cuts Across Genders

    What happens when a Canadian country girl goes pop? America is finding out this year via Lennon Stella, the 19-year-old former co-star of TV’s “Nashville,” who signed to Barry Weiss’ Records imprint (which has a deal via Columbia Records) in the winter of 2018, and who this month released a stellar new song, “Bitch (Takes [...]

  • Members of the public mourn at

    Guy Oseary’s New Zealand Fundraiser Nears $150,000, Continues Raising Money

    In the wake of the horrific shootings at New Zealand mosques last week that killed some 49 people, Maverick chief Guy Oseary launched a GoFundMe campaign to “support those affected by this tragedy at this very difficult time,” and began it with an $18,000 donation. Boosted by donations from many celebrities — including Amy Schumer, [...]

  • Justin Carter Dead: Country Singer Dies

    Country Singer Justin Carter Dies After Accidental Shooting on Music Video Set

    Texas country music upstart Justin Carter has died from a gunshot wound, in an accident that took place while a gun was being as a prop for a music video being filmed in his apartment, according to reports out of Houston. Carter, 35, died Saturday, the same week he had signed a management deal and [...]

  • Karen O

    Karen O & Danger Mouse Talk ‘Lux Prima,’ Perform at New York Times Event

    “We’re gonna do one more song…” Karen O said at her and Danger Mouse’s performance and chat in New York Wednesday night, “… and then comes the hard part, which is talking about music.” She was probably inadvertently paraphrasing the age-old adage that attempting to write about music is like “dancing about architecture,” but the [...]

  • Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend Roger Daltrey,

    Why Aren't the Who Playing Woodstock 50?

    Whither the Who? That’s a big question for anyone perusing the Woodstock 50 lineup and noticing that the biggest act from the original 1969 lineup that is still around and active is not on the bill. The timing might have even seemed fortuitous, since the band recently announced plans for a 29-city American tour this [...]

  • KCRW

    KCRW Moves Into New Headquarters as Star DJ Jason Bentley Mulls His Future

    Influential public radio station KCRW has finally left the basement and entered its new home: a sparkling, 34,000-square-foot, three-story $21.7 million glass structure on the campus of Santa Monica College. Part of a $115 million development of its Center for Media and Design, it’s a glittering, shiny and massive step up from its previous studio [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content