We promise not to turn the Spotify / Apple dispute into an endless series of ‘they said / they said’ leads. But there are quite a few developments to update you on today. Starting with Spotify’s response to Apple’s response to its original anti-trust complaint, which emerged on Friday. Apple, remember, went for Spotify’s throat not just about its App Store policies, but also Spotify’s appeal against higher songwriter-royalty rates in the US.
“Every monopolist will suggest they have done nothing wrong and will argue that they have the best interests of competitors and consumers at heart. In that way, Apple’s response to our complaint before the European Commission is not new and is entirely in line with our expectations,” said Spotify’s spokesperson. “We filed our complaint because Apple’s actions hurt competition and consumers, and are in clear violation of the law. This is evident in Apple’s belief that Spotify’s users on iOS are Apple customers and not Spotify customers, which goes to the very heart of the issue with Apple.”
There’s some good analysis out there on the dispute: we’d point you to this article on TechCrunch and this one on Charged. TechCrunch noted that while Apple dismantled some of Spotify’s claims, it carefully ignored others in its response. It also pointed out that “in reality both have had their fair share of accusations related to how they leverage control over those using their platforms — app publishers for Apple; musicians and those in related fields for Spotify — for their better financial gain”.
Charged, meanwhile, mainly focuses on filleting Apple’s statement. “Apple avoids touching on any of the issues in the ecosystem, while sometimes unintentionally reinforcing Spotify’s point: it controls a broad swathe of the ecosystem’s destiny, with little oversight,” it claimed. For a similarly-critical point-by-point rebuttal of Spotify’s arguments, mind, there’s this 9 to 5 Mac piece.
Spotify does have some backup: the European Publishers Council, which represents news publishers, backed its complaint on Friday. “We share Spotify’s concerns as Apple dictates all terms and conditions for each app that passes via their store, they take ownership of the customer relationship, keep the valuable data, insist on using their own payment system and impose a levy of 30 per cent of the fees paid by the consumers,” said its boss Christian Van Thillo, although he widened the criticism to Google’s app store too.
There are developments afoot, too, in that CRB-rates appeal. Warner/Chappell’s chief operating officer Carianne Marshall has joined the criticism of Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google’s appeal. “We value our relationships with the companies who help us deliver music to fans, but we have to draw a line on this issue. Their attempt to roll back rates fairly determined through the CRB process is unacceptable,” wrote Marshall in an open letter.
Meanwhile, Spotify is reportedly organising ‘Town Hall’ events for songwriters in LA and Nashville to further explain its motivations. Former Billboard editor Bill Werde tweeted an email from Mark Beaven of songwriter-management firm AAM criticising the plans, and calling for songwriters to “insist on having David Israelite, Head of the NMPA, whom helped win the rate court increase be present and have equal time to speak, as well as all interested parties such as SONA and NSAI be welcomed”. Now that *would* be a fiery town-hall event: perhaps Apple’s Eddy Cue should be invited along too…