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Apple Music Haunted by Collusion Investigation

Tell Me Anything But the Truth 

Apple Music is having something of an uneasy birth. The streaming service set up by the company as a means of steering away from the outdated iTunes format and into the wild green yonder has already been criticised for failing to offer a comprehensive enough service to rival Spotify, despite what Drizzy Drake might say, but now it looks like Apple might have been doing some double dealing. 

An investigation is underway to determine whether or not Apple colluded with various music labels to convince them to take their content off Spotify, leaving Apple Music as the only source. Other claimants suggest that Apple actually pressured them into doing this. The investigation is being spearheaded by the New York and Connecticut attorneys general, as well as members of the European Commission. The theory goes that Apple have been trying to convince the labels to pull their content out of any 'freemium' services, fueling the ongoing debate about how much people should be paying for their streamed music.

If this sounds a bit out of character for Apple, it's not the first time something like this has happened. The company have a reputation for tax evasion so appalling that you'd half expect to find a huge portrait of Al Capone hanging in their HQ and in 2013 they came under fire for cooking up a scheme with publishers to raise eBook prices, they ended up settling out of court for an undisclosed sum (which is code for 'an embarrassing amount'). It's sad to say that most tech giants aren't above shady, cloak and dagger business strategy, but it would be nice to think that a pioneering company like Apple would be able to approach the increasingly twisted world of music streaming with at least a modicum of dignity.

Even without these accusations though, Apple Music has a minefield of problems to contend with, and a massive inferiority complex. The standard service rate ($9.99 per month in the US) is the same as all the other rivals and a family package for $14.99 which enables up to 6 accounts is a huge boost, but the streaming quality is very limited compared to Spotify or Tidal and despite the presences of Beats 1 radio (featuring Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden and others), the exclusives on offer fall woefully short.

Artists might be complaining that Spotify's free service is pulling money out of their hands but the simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of paid users started on the free service and worked their way up to getting a subscription. Apple Music's 3 month free trial will help with that but until someone finds a way to offer a paid service that lines up with frequency of usage, this system simply isn't going to work. 

Netflix offers unlimited movie screening for the price of buying one DVD, it's easy to see the value in it even if  you watch only one film per month, with music streaming it's often difficult to tell exactly why it's worth shelling out over listening to the radio or using free services like 8tracks, Soundcloud, Mixcloud and Last FM. Even bandcamp will often allow you to stream an album or EP before you buy it. Streaming services are largely the domain of pop artists and, not to sound cynical or anything, but a pretty wide contingent of people who listen to pop regularly likely don't care about it anywhere near enough to pay a monthly fee. 

If Apple really want to broaden the appeal of this service they should play to their strengths and offer reduced or extended subscription with their devices. If someone buys an iPad and gets 6 months of free Apple Music they might decide at the end of that grace period that they like it enough to carry on. Honestly though, I think this streaming malarkey - at least in its current guise - has a very 'laserdisc' feel about it. But hey, I still use iTunes. 

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Apple Music Haunted by Collusion Investigation Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, June 11, 2015 Rating: 5

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