Spotify CEO on Apple and Google: 'If You Want to Be the Referee, You Can't Also Be the Player'

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is urging lawmakers in the United Kingdom to adopt a bill that would regulate competition in digital markets, cutting down on the dominance of Apple, Google, and other large tech companies.

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The Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill (DMCC) that the UK is developing would allow competition authorities to impose conduct requirements on companies and "promote competition" when a company's policies are "having an adverse effect on competition." Ek has long advocated for legislation that hobbles Apple's ability to both offer a platform (iOS) and compete on that platform with apps like Spotify rival Apple Music.

In an interview with Financial Times, Ek said that Apple and Google's control over how billions of consumers access the internet is "insane."

"Not only are they dictating the rules, they also compete directly downstream with those providers," said Ek. Ek wants the UK bill to make sure that a company that's the referee in the digital market "can't also be the player." The DMCC needs to have "real teeth" he said, adding that the bill is for all developers. "More and more of these developers are now finding that Apple is a competitor," he said.

If passed, the DMCC would give the UK's Competition and Markets Authority the power to impose multibillion-pound fines for large companies that breach the established rules. Tech companies would be required to provide more transparency about how their app stores work, with regulators able to open up specific markets like app stores or search engines.

Spotify has been in a feud with Apple for years, with the dispute between the two companies most recently heating up in 2022 when Apple rejected a Spotify app update that added audiobook support. Spotify back in 2019 filed a regulatory complaint in the European Union over Apple's App Store practices, which is still under investigation, and the company has also backed the Open Markets Act in the United States, legislation that would require Apple to allow for sideloading and alternate app stores.

Tag: Spotify

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Top Rated Comments

Contact_Feanor Avatar
11 months ago
Isn't Spotify playing referee and player in the podcasting business themselves?
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ladodger5 Avatar
11 months ago
Stop whining and release hi-fi
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LawJolla Avatar
11 months ago
If you charge $10/month for your music service, it is anticompetitive to take 30% of your competitors $10/month music service.

If you owned a store in a mall selling (price-controlled) Rolexes and the mall opened their own store next door to you selling the same Rolexes, you'd cry foul.

But the mall analogy still isn't as bad as the App Store... The mall does incur lost revenue (not leasing finite space to another tenant) with their own store where Apple does not. And you can at least move malls.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unregistered 4U Avatar
11 months ago
Spotify JUST learned a lesson, directly, at how hard it is to develop, produce, market and sell hardware. And STILL, they trot out this disingenuous argument.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PlayUltimate Avatar
11 months ago

If you charge $10/month for your music service, it is anticompetitive to take 30% of your competitors $10/month music service.

If you owned a store in a mall selling (price-controlled) Rolexes and the mall opened their own store next door to you selling the same Rolexes, you'd cry foul.

But with the mall analogy, you can at least move. With the App Store you can't.
Au contraire. Spotify, like Netflix, could offer sales of their service outside of the the App Store and not pay the 30%. There are many businesses that have apps on the Apple App Store that do not offer financial transactions through the store.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MangoAvocado Avatar
11 months ago

Europe has internalized that the referee can't be a player on so many levels in the world, high-tech and military just two of them. They love to tell others what to do.
How dares the European Union *checks notes* regulate the European Market to protect the European consumers. :eek:
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)