We’ve already heard several times that Apple has been facing investigations from both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission over how it negotiated with labels for Apple Music. Now, the New York State’s attorney general has posted a letter from Universal Music Group in which it claims that it is not doing anything illegal to prohibit the access of free music services by the consumer. From the letter:
UMG does not currently have any agreements with Apple Inc. (i) to impede the availability of third-party free or ad-supported music streaming services, or (ii) that limit, restrict, or prevent UMG from licensing its recorded music repertoire to any third- party music streaming service on any terms that UMG may choose. Nor does UMG intend to enter into any such agreements.
Apple has been accused of using its large pull with labels to put other streaming music services like Spotify at a disadvantage. One specific example of this that has been pointed out earlier is Apple forcing labels to reduce the music that it makes available to ad-supported services in an effort to bolster the selection available on Apple Music.
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Universal Music Group also points out in the letter that it does not have any deals with Sony Music Entertainment or Warner Music Group to block the availability of music on free and ad-supported services.
The same two attorney generals, Eric T. Schneiderman of New York and George Jepsen of Connecticut, were behind the infamous antitrust ebook case. Last year, Apple was found guilty of anti-competitive practices in the long-running ebook case, settling at $450M.
Apple officially announced Apple Music yesterday at WWDC. The service is slated to become available on June 30th as part of iOS 8.4 and will cost $9.99/mo for single user accounts and $15/mo for a family plan with 6 users.
Speaking to Re/code, Matt Mittenthal, a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, had the following to say regarding the Universal letter:
“This letter is part of an ongoing investigation of the music streaming business, an industry in which competition has recently led to new and different ways for consumers to listen to music. To preserve these benefits, it’s important to ensure that the market continues to develop free from collusion and other anticompetitive practices.”