Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Touches Down in Washington to Lobby Against “Apple’s Stranglehold”

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
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Photo Credit: Magnus Höij / CC by 2.0

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek continues his battle against ‘Apple’s stranglehold,’ touching down in Washington this week to lobby for the Open App Markets Act introduced last year.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s Swedish co-founder and CEO, has long been embroiled in a battle with Apple over what Ek and his company have called “anti-competitive” behavior on the part of the App Store. 

Namely, Spotify takes issue with the fee it pays Apple when a user makes a purchase through the Spotify mobile app via the App Store and the restrictions Apple enforces on the marketing in which apps in its store are allowed to engage. 

Apple is notorious for charging third-party app developers as much as 30 percent in fees for sales made through the App Store. Regulators have accused the company of engaging in “anti-steering” practices, preventing services like Spotify from informing iPhone and iPad users about services they can purchase outside the App Store, mainly when those services directly compete with Apple’s ecosystem.

As a result, Ek is in Washington, D.C., this week to lobby lawmakers to pass a law preventing Apple from engaging in such behavior — a proposition floating around Congress since last year. The Open App Markets Act is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

“Apple prohibits competition by not allowing developers to discuss new products, features, and deals with their own users,” says Ek. “For instance, Apple promotes deals for Apple Music to Spotify customers but denies us the same privilege. What’s even more unbelievable is that we can’t even tell our (iPhone and iPad) users the basics of how to sign up for a Spotify subscription or how to purchase an audiobook.”

“This leaves customers without the ability to make informed choices about the services and pricing options available to them,” Ek continues. “And we aren’t the only ones feeling this impact. I talk to developers daily (who are) being disadvantaged by the small number of gatekeepers controlling the internet.”

The United States Justice Department investigated the Apple App Store’s business practices beginning in 2019. The Wall Street Journal reported in February this year that the department is drafting a potential anti-trust complaint against Apple.

Meanwhile, the European Union began investigating the App Store’s business practices in 2020. Still, that investigation has narrowed significantly within the last year to focus exclusively on the company’s anti-steering practices while dropping its probe into allegations about the upwards-of-30-percent app tax.