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Spotify and seven other companies launches attack on Apple and over ‘abuses of its powerful platform’

 (Getty Images for Spotify)
(Getty Images for Spotify)

Spotify has launched an attack on Apple over what it says are “abuses of its powerful platform”.

The streaming service joined with seven other companies in similar businesses – such as publishing – to demand that European regulators clamp down on Apple.

It demanded “meaningful regulatory action against Apple’s long-standing anti-competitive practices in Europe” in an open letter written to Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition. It also pointed to an ongoing campaign, named “Time To Play Fair”, that it has used to target Apple and others for years.

Spotify and Apple have long been at odds over what the former says is “anti-competitive behaviour” by the latter. Its complaints relate to a number of policies, including the money it takes from subscriptions made on the iPhone and the rules in its App Store.

But in the new letter, Spotify says that Apple has thrived in the years since, while regulators have not done enough to stop them. It calls for “urgent action from the EU to end Apple’s abusive behaviours”, by speeding up an ongoing case that relates to accusations of anti-competitive behaviour by Apple, as well as demanding that the upcoming Digital Markets Act is used tocrack down on Apple’s policies.

“Almost four years ago, Spotify filed a formal antitrust complaint with the European Commission because Apple’s anti-competitive behavior was stifling innovation and harming developers and consumers across Europe and around the world,” Spotify wrote on its website.

“Since then, little has changed. Apple has been enabled by the lack of decisive action by regulators, who continue to move hesitantly, even in the face of a groundswell of support.

“The clock is ticking. It’s time for regulators to address the ever-growing chorus of complaints against Apple, a critical step in stopping Apple’s continued abuses of its powerful platform.”

The accompanying letter is signed by Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder and chief executive, as well as the leaders of Basecamp, Deezer, Proton and Schibsted. It is also supported by business associations that represent companies within the media and publishing industries: the European Publishers Council, France Digital, and News Media Europe.

In 2019, when Spotify first began its public attacks on Apple in earnest, Apple said that the company was looking to benefit from the App Store ecosystem without contributing to it. It also attacked Spotify for distributing music “while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it”.

Spotify itself has been subject to repeated criticism over the power it has to decide payments to artists, and the relatively small size of those revenues.

Last month, for instance, musician Ben Frost announced that he had taken his music off the platform in part because “Spotify’s appalling royalty rates are the worst of the worst”.

“In one of the greatest marketing ploys since the ‘health benefits of smoking’, Spotify has convinced millions of listeners that use of their platform is supporting artists,” he said then. “It is not.”