Spotify Lauds $2 Billion EU Fine, Says Apple Has ‘Muzzled’ Streaming Music Services

Apple was today fined €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) for anti-competitive conduct against rival streaming music services in the European Union, and following the ruling, Spotify has praised the European Commission for its decision.

For context, the European Commission’s investigation into Apple’s practices started due to a 2019 complaint from Spotify over App Store policies. Spotify has long railed against Apple’s 30 percent fee, and has complained that it is unfairly disadvantaged compared to Apple Music.

In a blog post, Spotify says that the European Commission has sent a clear message that “Apple’s behavior limiting communications to consumers is unlawful.”

Apple’s rules muzzled Spotify and other music streaming services from sharing with our users directly in our app about various benefits–denying us the ability to communicate with them about how to upgrade and the price of subscriptions, promotions, discounts, or numerous other perks. Of course, Apple Music, a competitor to these apps, is not barred from the same behaviour. By requiring Apple to stop its illegal conduct in the EU, the EC is putting consumers first. It is a basic concept of free markets–customers should know what options they have, and customers, not Apple, should decide what to buy, and where, when and how.

It is worth noting that the scope of the investigation in Europe has changed several times. While Spotify complained over Apple’s ‌App Store‌ fees and the requirement to use in-app purchase, the European Commission was unable to target Apple for those actions. Instead, the investigation ended up pertaining to Apple’s anti-steering rules, and the rule that keeps Spotify from informing customers about lower prices on the web within the Spotify app.

The European Commission decided that Apple’s restrictions preventing developers from letting iOS users know about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside the app is “illegal under EU antitrust rules.” The EC claims that Apple caused customers to “pay significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions.”

Spotify in its blog post further says that Apple has “routinely defied laws and court decisions in other markets,” and that it is waiting for the next steps that will “clearly and conclusively address Apple’s long-standing unfair practices.” Spotify claims that it plans to continue to push against Apple until it is able to secure a “truly fair digital marketplace everywhere.”

Apple has been ordered to “remove the anti-steering provisions” and keep from repeating the infringement or adopting similar practices in the future. Apple plans to appeal the decision and has claimed that the EC’s view is misguided and has been heavily influenced by Spotify’s complaints.

Spotify will soon be able to release an app outside of the ‌App Store‌ with support for alternative app marketplaces coming to the EU in iOS 17.4, but the streaming music company has complained that Apple’s plans do not comply with the DMA and that the changes coming in Europe are a “complete and total farce.”

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