Apple faces US antitrust probe over music deals

By John Glenday | Reporter

June 10, 2015 | 2 min read

US authorities have reportedly launched an antitrust probe into Apple’s dealings with record labels just 24 hours after it unveiled its new Apple Music streaming service.

According to the Financial Times officials are said to be concerned that Apple may have urged labels to drop their support for free at the point of use services such as Spotify and YouTube, which rely instead on advertising to make their sums add up.

It follows publication of a letter by the New York attorney general from lawyers representing Universal Music which categorically stated that it was not colluding with Sony Music, Warner Music or Apple to ‘impede the availability of free or ad-supported music streaming services.’

A spokesman for the New York attorney-general, Eric Schneiderman, commented: “This letter is part of an investigation of the music streaming business, an industry in which competition has recently led to new and different ways for consumers to listen to music. To preserve these benefits, it’s important to ensure that the market continues to develop free from collusion and other anti-competitive practices.”

A similar investigation into Apple’s dealings is being conducted by European authorities following concerns raised by rival streaming services and follows a previous investigation into Apple’s ebook’s business found that the firm had colluded with publishers to artificially inflate the price of their books.

Apple has not commented on whether it has been approached by officials and is pressing ahead with the release of its $10 per month music app on 30 June.

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