EU regulators may haul Apple over the coals over music streaming plans

2 Apr 2015

Ahead of Apple’s big Beats streaming reveal, European regulators are believed to be scrutinising Apple’s dealings with regulators.

In anticipation of a major turf war between streaming services from Spotify and Deezer to Apple’s Beats and the artist-led Tidal service launched this week by Jay-z, regulators have been contacting labels and digital music streaming platforms.

It is understood that the companies have been sent questionnaires seeking information about the kind of agreements Apple has in place with the record labels.

Such requests for information are normally in response to a formal complaint to the European Commission’s top competition authority.

These Beats are technocratic?

Apple acquired Beats Electronics from Dr Dre and Jonny Iovine last May for US$3bn and the pair joined Apple. Apple has since been sprucing up its musical assets, hiring a renowned BBC DJ and tastemaker Zane Lowe as well as acquiring a London-based music software company Camel Audio.

Apple is believed planning to bundle the Beats music subscription service into an iOS update within the first half of 2015. It is also understood to be planning to make the Beats subscription service available across all platforms from Mac and PC to web, Android and Windows Phone devices.

The move makes sense since the entire music download market is in decline thanks to streaming, which is endangering Apple’s iTunes platform which has over 200m customers.

Apple’s Beats streaming platform is expected to cost US$10 per month, but unlike Spotify will not use a free, ad-supported tier to grow its nummbers.

The regulators may be acting in response to fears Apple may use its size and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services like Spotify.

Hadrian /“>Apple and Beats image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years