U.S. FTC probing Apple over its deals for ‘iTunes Music’ subscription service

“U.S. antitrust officials are scrutinizing Apple Inc.’s efforts to line up deals with record labels as it prepares to debut a new version of the Beats Music streaming service, according to people familiar with the matter,” David McLaughlin, Lucas Shaw, and Tim Higgins report for Bloomberg.

“The Federal Trade Commission is looking at whether Apple is using its position as the largest seller of music downloads through its iTunes store to put rival music services like Spotify Ltd. at a disadvantage, one of the people sai,” McLaughlin, Shaw, and Higgins report. “The FTC’s inquiry could complicate Apple’s planned revamp of Beats Music this summer. Apple has approached more than a dozen artists including Florence and the Machine for limited exclusive rights to music and partnerships to help bolster the service, people familiar with the effort have said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Negotiating exclusives is legal. Or, at least, it used to be.

“The FTC’s investigators, still in the early stages, of their inquiry, are asking whether Apple’s efforts will change the way music labels work with other streaming services, for example curtailing ad-supported music and pushing more songs into paid tiers of service at higher rates, according to one of the people,” McLaughlin, Shaw, and Higgins report. “Apple hasn’t made such demands on the labels, according to the music-industry executives.

MacDailyNews Take: Bold emphasis added.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One of the main points of competition in open markets is to put rivals at a disadvantage. Again, exclusives, a very common practice in the music industry, are not illegal. Are the FTC “probing” Target over their exclusive albums?

If we had to guess, Spotify = Amazon this time in the whiny little bitch department.


  1. The current administration does not like companies that make money honestly. Of course, all problems can be overcome if Apple turns over a few billion to the DNC, and pays for a few speeches by Bill and Hillary.

  2. Why do an investigation at all? (The last one was so shoddy that it should have been thrown out in the first week of court.)

    The FTC should just sue Apple, make sure it gets into Cote’s court (Cote will again say Apple is guilty even before the trial starts), nail Apple to the wall, bring in another of Cote’s old friends who know nothing about the industry or the legal issues to get paid to “monitor” Apple at Apple’s expense, and move on to the next trumped up issue. It’s much simpler that way.

    (((For those that don’t get it. The previous statements are dripping with extreme sarcasm!)))

  3. I gather these FTC probes are similar to the water board probing at Guatanamo bay. It’s not uncommon for a nation to probe and dig a very deep hole once it leaves the free and civilized world.

  4. Apple do need to be careful here. The book trial is a precedent (however unfair it was). Trying to get competitors free offerings cancelled may be overzealous and anti-competitive.

  5. …according to people familiar with the matter

    And they always know. 😛

    What does Apple’s so far vaporous ‘iTunes Music’ have to do with the FTC? It this Spotify and Google getting all paranoid and defensive about Apple attempting to drag the music business into the 21st Century? Is this protectionist Luddite behavior within the web industry? I think so. 🙄

  6. In our modern day liberal utopia, no one is supposed to have an advantage because having an advantage is considered by them to be “unfair.” Therefore, when our overbearing overlords in the gubmint spot someone with an advantage, they appoint themselves as the great righter of wrongs and pounce. We are not citizens, but subjects.

  7. Capitalism is all about the acquisition of more capital than the competitor. You do this by having an advantage. this is all legal. In the US, a monopoly is legal. By contrast, a predatory monopoly is illegal. So far, Apple’s radio service is not predatory, and it’s not even a monopoly, nor is its latest service even released. So there is no crime. Why is the US gov. pursuing “pre-crime-like” after a non-predatory, non-criminal activity, perfectly legal market tactic?

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