Apple’s not even announced its rebranded Beats Music streaming rival to Spotify yet, and already it’s under investigation from regulators.
According to a new report, multiple record labels and digital music companies have been contacted for questioning by the European Commission for what could be a redo of the Apple’s antitrust ebooks controversy, in which the company was forced to shell out $450 million in damages.
The mystery part: since such investigations are usually triggered only by a formal complaint to the commission, there’s plenty of finger-pointing going on regarding who’s responsible for throwing accusations Cupertino’s way. In true Clue fashion, was it an existing streaming music provider, in the dining room, with the endangered business model?
All will (presumably) be revealed.
Apple’s new music service will put it into direct streaming music competition with the likes of Spotify, Deezer, Jay Z’s recently-announced Tidal and others. Unlike some of its rivals, Apple’s service is extremely unlikely to come with a free, ad-supported tier to attract new customers.
The questionnaires sent out by the EC are only for information gathering purposes, and don’t necessarily mean a formal antitrust investigation will take place, but if wrongdoing is believed to have taken place the commission could impose fines on Apple and require it to make changes to its business model.
Already established giants like Spotify mean that Apple is far from the only name in the streaming music game, of course. However, the European Commission is allegedly concerned that Apple could use its size, influence and existing relationships with labels to persuade them to ditch other companies and hop aboard the Apple exclusives train.
We’ll keep you updated.
Source: Financial Times