Spotify lodges European Union complaint against Apple over unfair music competition

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

According to Spotify, Apple makes life hard for any service that tries to get around the 30% fee.

The company has today (March 13) announced that it is filing an anti-trust complaint against Apple with the European Commission, regarding the latter company's controversial "app tax".

Apple launched Apple Music in 2015 in a bid to compete with Spotify in the burgeoning streaming music space.

The case Ek lays out is a familiar story for anyone frustrated with the App Store, which is the only legit method for installing software on an iPhone. That is the 30% of monthly subscription fees that Apple takes on subscriptions made through its payment system.

Spotify's general council, Horacio Gutierrez, said separately that Google, unlike Apple, did not require Spotify to use its own payments system but "we are allowed to offer users a choice of payment systems". If users upgrade to a paid Spotify subscription, Ek explains, and do so through Apple's payment system such as with an in-app purchase, Apple takes 30-percent of that.

For example, they won't let us market to our customers who use our app on iOS.

The charge makes Spotify's premium membership more expensive than Apple Music, so the company said it refuses to use the system. Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades.

Ek noted that apps like Uber aren't subject to the "Apple tax", and that Spotify isn't looking for special treatment, just equal treatment.

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Spotify has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with Europe's competition watchdog, arguing that the way it runs the App Store is anticompetitive.

The tax does not apply if people subscribe through a non-Apple device, such as on a desktop, and then use the service afterwards on an Apple device.

Apple hasn't as of the time of this writing responded to requests for comments about Spotify's action, while a spokesperson for the European Commission told The Wall Street Journal that Spotify's complaint has been received and is being reviewed. Also, that consumers should have the choice of using whichever payment system they want within the apps and that developers should not be prevented from communicating with its users when it comes to marketing and promotions.

A spat between the companies that operate two of the biggest music streaming services in the world has landed at the doorstep of the European Union, which has been taking an increasingly tough stance lately against antitrust-related issues involving U.S. tech companies.

App Stores should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users.

As I recently shared, competition pushes us to evolve and improve both the customer and creator experience.

Consumers win and our industry thrives when we're able to challenge each other on fair footing.

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