Report: Apple seeking to kill off free music streaming services

Attempts to encourage labels to remove artists from freemium tiers of Spotify and more have attracted US government attention

Since Apple bought Beats, the company has undoubtedly been developing its own music streaming service to compete with the likes of Spotify, Rdio and Deezer – and now it seems like it may have found a way to offer an edge over its rivals.

Unfortunately for those of us who like cost-free, ad-supported music streaming, that edge may be the death of freemium tiers across all services.

The Verge reports that Apple is attempting to push major record labels into withdrawing their music from the free tiers of services like Spotify. Spotify, for example, currently holds a licence allowing it to stream music from all major labels through its ad-supported, non-subscription tier – the one used by 45 million of the service’s 60 million users. Apple, the report says, is aiming to stop the renewal of this licence.

Why? Well, rumour has it Apple won’t be offering a free tier when its own streaming service arrives. The plan, it seems, is to force all users to pay a monthly fee for streaming on the basis that quite a lot of them will pick Apple’s over other options.

YouTube under attack too

And it doesn’t stop at streaming services. Even YouTube is under threat, with Apple reportedly offering to pay Universal Music Group the value of YouTube’s licence to feature videos of its artists’ tracks if the licence is not renewed.

Apparently, Apple’s tactics have not gone unnoticed by the US federal government. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are currently examining Apple’s business practices and interviewing senior music industry figures in a bid to discover if Cupertino’s activities can be classed as illegally anti-competitive.

Apple has fallen foul of US anti-trust laws before, over ebooks, so it wouldn’t be the first time the company’s conduct has been deemed less than pristine by officials. It’s widely believed that Apple’s streaming service will be introduced at WWDC 2015, which starts on 8th June.

[Source: The Verge]