Apple Music under fire: FTC investigation reported, consumer group complains

Apple Music under fire: FTC investigation reported, consumer group complains

By Levi Sumagaysay      / July 22, 2015 at 9:59 AM

Is Apple playing dirty when it comes to its new music-streaming service?

A consumer group has called for an FTC antitrust investigation into not-new allegations that Apple is trying to kill the free tier offered by competing streaming services. Consumer Watchdog sent a letter today to the Federal Trade Commission, saying that it believes Apple is using its massive collection of consumer credit-card information and info about music preferences as leverage in pushing record labels to reject the “freemium” tiers offered by services such as Spotify and Pandora. (Apple Music does not have a free tier except for during a three-month trial period.)

“While getting artists more money for their songs is an enviable goal, the fact that Apple is using its market position as download and credit card leader to demand higher prices marks of the very price fixing it was caught doing in the e-book case,” the letter says.

Consumer Watchdog also says it has confidential information that Apple is pushing to get exclusive streaming rights, and has threatened to bypass record labels and deal with artists directly.

The Consumer Watchdog letter comes a day after the Verge reported that the FTC has launched an investigation into Apple’s practice of charging a 30 percent fee for rival music-subscription services purchased through its App Store. As we’ve written, Spotify has urged people not to sign up for a subscription through the App Store because they get charged more than the $9.99 a month Spotify charges.

Apple has not yet responded to our request for comment.


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