Spotify and Deezer urge EU to tackle tech gatekeepers

14 Dec 2017

Spotify app on mobile. Image: Pe3k/Shutterstock

Music streaming companies are concerned that Apple could gain an unfair hold over the flourishing market.

It has been just over a month since Spotify, Deezer, SoundCloud and other music streaming companies announced a new alliance group called Digital Music Europe (DME).

The group aims to showcase the success of the European digital music industry and allow members to contribute to policy debates in Brussels.

Now, according to the Financial Times, Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek and Deezer chief executive Hans-Holger Albrecht have called on the EU to fight for a level playing field, by reining in platforms that are “regularly abusing their advantaged position”.

The two companies penned a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission (EC), outlining their concerns.

Big tech’s unfair advantage

The firms believe that Amazon and Apple cause harm to smaller companies that are reliant on their services.

Spotify cited the example of Apple taking a 30pc cut of Spotify’s subscription fee when users buy a Premium subscription package through the App Store.

The companies also criticised the lack of full access to user data, which could help them make their apps a better experience for users.

In the summer of this year, Google’s tech behemoth status failed to shield it from a record fine issued by the EU for giving “illegal advantage” to its own comparison-shopping service.

At the time, Margrethe Vestager, the EC competition commissioner, said: “Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison-shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.”

Both Spotify and Deezer likely hope that this regulatory approach from the EC will be the one applied to larger tech companies that are causing them concern.

The EU is currently preparing new rules on how tech firms interact with vendors and app developers.

The letter was also signed by several EU game developers and digital publishers, and it stressed that new rules must “go beyond mere transparency requirements, which alone will not ensure platforms act as gateways rather than become gatekeepers to the digital economy”.

Spotify app on mobile. Image: Pe3k/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects