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This is not a surprise – it was well-trailed in advance – but UK competition regulator the CMA has this morning officially launched its music streaming market study. What’s new is the ‘statement of scope‘ which explains exactly what the probe will be, well, probing.

“The nature of competition at different levels of the value chain, including the extent to which music companies and music streaming services may have market power,” is the first bullet point in its to-do list.

“The extent to which the publishing arms of recorded music companies strengthen any market power of such music companies,” comes next, followed by “Possible barriers to entry and expansion which may be faced by smaller and newer music companies and music streaming services, particularly those seeking to introduce disruptive business models or services.”

The CMA is also planning to explore “the inter-relationships and agreements between music companies and music streaming services and whether they impact upon competition, innovation and consumer outcomes”, and examine “the range of music streaming business models, including ad-funded music streaming, premium subscriptions, and user-uploaded content platforms such as YouTube and how they compete with one another”.

Finally – and here’s a klaxon going off in the boardrooms of the DSPs – the CMA will look at “whether any business practices adopted by music streaming services (for example how they collect and use consumer data) may harm consumers, especially as more adopt music streaming”.

It’s potentially a veritable festival of dirty laundry for streaming services and rightsholders alike, depending how deeply the regulator decides to probe some of those issues. We’ve got a while to wait to see what it comes up with however: an update will be published within six months, while the final report will come out “no later than 26 January 2023”.

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