The New York Attorney General’s office is now investigating whether any anti-competitive practice took place between music rights-holders and Apple.
The inquiry wants to establish whether labels and Apple “worked together to suppress the availability to consumers of free, advertising-supported, on-demand music streaming or similar services, such as those offered by Spotify and YouTube.”
In a letter from its lawyers – which you can read in full here – UMG said that any exclusive deals with digital service providers are “based on our legitimate unilateral business interests and not part of an agreement to restrain competition.”
It added: “UMG does not currently have any agreements with Sony Music Entertainment or Warner Music Group (i) to impede the availability of free or ad-supported music streaming services, or (ii) that limit, restrict, or prevent UMG from licensing its recorded music repertoire to any music streaming service on any terms that UMG may choose. Nor does UMG intend to enter into any such agreements.
“Similarly, 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 licensingits 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.”
In a statement, the New York attorney general’s office said the UMG 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” and that “to preserve these benefits, it’s important to ensure that the market continues to develop free from collusion and other anti-competitive practices.”
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General for Connecticut is also investigating whether any anti-competitive practices took place.
A statement from Connecticut’s AG General George Jepsen said: “We have been working with New York to investigate concerns about potential anti-competitive conduct in the music streaming industry… at this point, we are satisfied that Universal does not have in place – or in process – anti-competitive agreements to withhold music titles from no-charge streaming services.”Music Business Worldwide