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Apple “cleared” of beating up Spotify

Apple Music iPhone 6

EU clears Apple of leaning on record labels to scupper Spotify's free subscriptions

The European Commission has found no evidence that Apple was colluding with major record labels to strangle Spotify’s free music service, according to reports. The news comes as the company revealed 11 million people had signed up for the trial of the recently launched Apple Music. 

Apple was under investigation by the EU, following reports that it was leaning on the record labels to withdraw their support for Spotify’s free subscription tiers. Spotify currently allows users to listen to a limited amount of music for free on both mobile and desktop, whereas Apple Music will eventually costs a minimum of £9.99 per month. Apple reportedly feared the free, ad-supported tiers would harm its ability to sell subscriptions. 

Apple Music vs Spotify: is it worth switching?

The EU’s investigation found that Apple did nothing illegal in its negotiations with the record labels, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter, who spoke to Re/Code, although the EU hasn’t officially commented on the status of the investigation.

The Commission is, however, still gathering evidence for a separate investigation into whether Apple puts unfair restrictions on rivals’ apps sold through the App Store. The investigation will likely focus on the 30% fee Apple charges for any subscriptions sold directly through iPhone/iPad apps. Many companies refuse to sell subscriptions or goods through their iOS apps, in order to avoid the “Apple tax”. 

Apple Music numbers

Apple has managed to sign up 11 million people for Apple Music since the service first launched at the end of June, according to the company’s senior vice president, Eddy Cue, who was speaking to USA Today. Two million of those have opted for the £14.99 family plan, which allows up to six members of the same household to share the one subscription. 

However, Apple is yet to convert any of these 11 million trialists into paying customers. Apple Music is currently in a three-month trial period, with charges only kicking in if customers don’t cancel their subscriptions before the end of September. Spotify, by comparison, claims to have 20 million paying subscribers. 


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