Apple’s Deal with Music Labels Watched Closely by the FTC

Antitrust officials are investigating whether Apple is using its influence in the music industry to orchestrate a potentially unfair advantage over its competitors, reports Bloomberg. The FTC will need to “stay in line”, however, because there are two other government bodies currently investigating the same business practices: the US Department of Justice – as reported by The Verge – and the European Commission’s Competition Commission – first noticed by the NYP.

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Earlier, in April, reports emerged about Apple using its influence to force-end the free tier of existing music streaming services such as Spotify. The move could make sense in the light of the highly anticipated revamped Apple music streaming service, which is allegedly scheduled for launch at WWDC 2015 in June.

The FTC’s investigators, still in the early stages, of their inquiry, are asking whether Apple’s efforts will change the way music labels work with other streaming services, for example curtailing ad-supported music and pushing more songs into paid tiers of service at higher rates, according to one of the people.

It is worth noting, though, that the FTC is speaking to multiple music labels, but as far as Bloomberg’s reporters can tell – based on interviews with label execs – Apple has not used its power to make such demands.