Alongside the well-documented process for agreeing a text for a new copyright directive – Article 13 included – the three big European political institutions have also been working on another set of regulations that have implications for the music industry.
The European Parliament, European Commission and Council of the European Union have issued their first ‘platform-to-business’ regulations, covering internet/tech companies running platforms from search engines and app stores to smart speakers. This isn’t just about Apple, Google, Amazon etc – the EC says the rules will cover around 7,000 companies operating in Europe, including startups.
Among the rules are greater transparency about how goods and services are ranked by a platform “to help sellers without allowing gaming of the ranking system”. While Google searches and app-store search rankings may be the obvious things that spring to mind here, it arguably applies just as much to the recommendation algorithms of streaming services. This may also be true for the rules governing online platforms who “not only provide the marketplace, but are also sellers on the same marketplace at the same time”.
Again, the obvious thought is how Apple, Google and Amazon prioritise their own music-streaming services over others – but you could argue it also covers, say, how Spotify promotes its own playlists compared to those of third parties. In other words, while Spotify was among the firms lobbying for the regulations, to govern how it operates on the big-tech companies’ products and services, the company will be well aware that it also falls under the definition of a platform.