Report: DOJ Has An Eye On Apple As It Makes Moves To Push Free Streaming Music Rivals Out Of The Way

Let’s be honest: It would be ideal for a business if it could somehow snap up every customer looking for a certain service. But because we (thankfully) live in a world filled with choices, companies instead must compete with rivals to get our hard-earned dollars. A new report says Apple is preparing to debut its new streaming music service by trying to put the squeeze on competitors like Spotify that offer content for free.

The Verge cites multiple sources who say the Department of Justice is keeping tabs on Apple while it reportedly tries to narrow the playing field ahead of its upcoming release of its Beats Music service, by pushing major music labels to put the kibosh on free music offered by Spotify and the like. This seems to be in tune with earlier reports that Apple will not offer a similar, ad-supported free tier of its own.

While Spotify boasts 60 million listeners, 45 million of those use its free service, which is supported by ads that play every few songs or so. Getting a company like that to give up all those free listeners means some of those customers might find their way to Apple by the time it unleashes its new service, likely in June.

Sources also say that Apple is willing to pony up the music licensing fee YouTube pays to Universal Music Group if the label will stop allowing its songs for free on YouTube.

According to The Verge, DOJ officials have been talking to the big industry executives about Apple’s business methods.

“All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat,” one music industry source told The Verge.

Though there’s a DOJ antitrust monitor hanging around on Apple’s campus after Apple was found guilty in last year’s e-book antitrust case — which it’s still appealing — it’s unclear if the monitor would be involved in a situation like this or is strictly on the e-book case.

Another report from the New York Post says officials across the pond in the European Union’s Competition Commission are also looking into whether Apple is working with labels to push out freemium services.

Apple did not comment to The Verge.

Apple pushing music labels to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch [The Verge]

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