Apple Allegedly Pushing Music Labels to Stop Free Music Streaming Tiers


Apple’s business habits are being followed closely by the US Department of Justice: Ahead of the relaunch of its music streaming service (presumably in June), the DOJ has interviewed high-profile industry executives, following whispers of Apple using its power to stop the free tier of music streaming services, The Verge has learned.

While the sources mention Spotify specifically, claiming that Apple has been pushing music labels to force-end Spotify’s free tier of music services, they also mention that Apple has been willing to pay YouTube’s music licensing fee to Universal Music Group if the music label avoids publishing on the popular platform.

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Apple has been using its considerable power in the music industry to stop the music labels from renewing Spotify’s license to stream music through its free tier. Spotify currently has 60 million listeners, but only 15 million of them are paid users. Getting the music labels to kill the freemium tiers from Spotify and others could put Apple in prime position to grab a large swath of new users when it launches its own streaming service, which is widely expected to feature a considerable amount of exclusive content. “All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat,” one music industry source said.

It’s an open secret that Apple is preparing to relaunch its own music streaming service. iTunes Radio can be considered as a trial run, as Apple made a significant investment of $3 billion last year when it acquired Beats. Since then, multiple rumours have surfaced, all of which confirm that Apple is busy preparing the relaunch of a revamped music streaming service as demand moves from music downloads to music streaming.

It is worth noting that the US DOJ are not the only ones watching Apple’ s business practices closely: The European Commission’s Competition Commission launched a similar probe in April.


  • Kevin

    stop bending backwards…. Ah ah Apple Apple

  • runner

    This is just awful, but I am not really surprised.

  • Duff

    I use Google Play Music more than my iTunes Match subscription and can say Google’s service is awesome. I can upload unlimited amount of my own music including my purchased iTunes music and have it available to stream on Google play music plus all their entire library and also create playlists with both mine and Google’s music.
    I’m hoping that Apple is seriously creating a service the same which then can replace my iTunes Match and then I can cancel my google play music service.

  • Mac

    If Google play music is awesome, why would you want to cancel it?

  • Duff

    A couple reasons. 1. My car Bluetooth can access my entire music library only from my iTunes music from the touch screen and command control button and if i want to play music from google play music I have to pick up my phone and select music while driving which is illegal.
    2. I still purchase some music on iTunes when not available in google play music store and then have access to it via iTunes Match on all my devices immediately.