Apple accused of pressuring labels to remove music from Spotify

Apple store logo
As the debut of Apple’s streaming music service quickly approaches, sources close to The Verge say the company’s aggressive pursuit of content exclusivity has attracted scrutiny from regulators in the Justice Department. According to the report, Apple’s been privately pushing record labels to abandon ad-supported, free listening platforms like YouTube and Spotify that might otherwise compete with its own subscription-only service.

Apple reportedly offered to pay YouTube’s music licensing fee to Universal Music Group if the label agreed to disallow its songs on the video sharing website, and has also been actively discouraging music labels from renewing licenses for Spotify’s free tier. “All the way to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat,” one music industry source told The Verge.

Apple’s motivation is clear: The company’s new service, which sources say will cost $10/month with no free tier, has millions of users to gain. Spotify has around 60 million active listeners, only a quarter of which pay a subscription fee. Major music releases that are free to watch on YouTube, meanwhile, regularly rack up tens of millions of views, sometimes hundreds of millions — and even billions.

Sources tell The Verge that Department of Justice officials have interviewed high-ranking music industry executives about Apple’s practices. Separately in Europe, the European Union’s Competition Commission is continuing a probe into Apple’s moves to harm “freemium” music services, which don’t charge a monthly fee.

This isn’t the tech giant’s first run-in with the Justice Department. In a case widely publicized, the company was accused of colluding with publishers to fix eBook prices. Apple agreed to host an antitrust monitor on campus as part of a settlement, who The Verge report says may or may not be a part of the investigation at hand.

Apple’s music service has been years in the making. After purchasing Beats Electronics, the company has reportedly overhauled the Beats Music as the backbone of its new service. Since then, Apple has slowly secured the exclusive rights to stream “more than a dozen [artists],” including Florence and the Machine and Taylor Swift, and has recently signed on well-respected talent from the BBC’s renowned Radio 1 station to help with logistics and music curation. The service is expected to be woven into the iTunes platform and integrate Beats-style personalization including cloud-based libraries and music recommendations.

Rumors peg June as the unveiling month for Apple’s offering, most likely at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). The most recent iOS update may be a subtle hint — it introduces a redesigned Music app with global search, a new MiniPlayer, and interface improvements across the board. We’ll keep an eye on new developments regarding fair play as the service approaches launch, so stay tuned.

Home Theater

Pandora now lets you mess with the secret sauce for its music playlists

Pandora introduced a new feature called Modes, allowing subscribers to pick between six different algorithms that determine what the popular music streaming service will decide to play.
Home Theater

Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which streaming service is best for you?

It's hard to dispute Netflix's leadership in on-demand streaming video, it's not alone. Two great alternatives are Amazon Prime Video and Hulu; each with its strengths and weaknesses. Which one is better? We pick the winner.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.

The best new music this week: Karen O with Danger Mouse, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week, we have new music from Karen O with Danger Mouse, Snarky Puppy, Stephen Malkmus, and Zacari.
Home Theater

SoundCloud hopes to add listeners with 50 percent discount for students

SoundCloud launched a student discount for it's top-tier SoundCloud Go+ membership, dropping the price to just $5 a month. It's a good deal for students, but will it be enough to keep the music platform from going under?

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Home Theater

iPhone owners can finally hear the highest-quality streaming music on Tidal

If you're an iPhone owner who is after the highest possible audio quality from your streaming library, you now have the best option out there: Tidal's Masters Quality Audio (MQA) is now available on iOS.
Home Theater

Get loud with the best outdoor speakers to rock your party in any weather

From rugged, solar-powered backwoods listening companions to floating pool party jam boxes, the best outdoor speakers partner with your lifestyle to let you listen to your favorite tunes wherever you go.

Apple Music offers a few subscription options. We break them down here

Competition for music streaming apps is quickly dwindling with giants like Apple Music and Spotify dominating most of the market? But how much does Apple Music cost and what does a subscription to the music-streaming platform entail?
Home Theater

If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you now get Hulu for free

Spotify Premium subscribers have yet another reason to love the Swedish streaming service, with the company now offering ad-free Hulu accounts to all premium users at no additional cost.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Apple Music completes its Amazon migration, is now available on Fire TV

Amazon's popular Fire TV devices are now compatible with the most popular on-demand music streaming service in the United States, thanks to a new integration with Apple Music that has finally hit Fire TV devices.
Emerging Tech

This streaming music service pays artists in Bitcoin, plants trees if you listen

Feedbands is an environmentally friendly subscription streaming music service that pays its artists in Bitcoin, and plants trees in exchange for authenticated listens from customers.