Spotify’s War on Apple Finds an Unexpected Ally: Elon Musk

Elon Musk NFT
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Elon Musk NFT
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Photo Credit: JD Lasica / CC by 2.0

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek appears to have found an ally – Twitter head Elon Musk – in his long-running crusade against Apple, and particularly the Cupertino-headquartered company’s App Store.

Musk just recently weighed in on Apple’s market presence and the operational implications thereof, responding to a tweet from Ek. Of course, the latter exec has for some time been speaking out against App Store fees and policies, and the Spotify co-founder last month traveled to Washington to lobby against “Apple’s stranglehold.”

(September of 2022 had seen Ek personally visit Brussels in an effort to “accelerate” an EU antitrust inquiry, and in February of 2023, the European Commission updated the investigation to focus specifically on “App Store rules for music streaming providers.”)

Meanwhile, Musk himself spoke publicly about the App Store and its owner shortly after purchasing Twitter, when Apple temporarily paused advertising on the social media platform. Then, Musk in late November of 2022 indicated that he’d had a “good conversation” with Apple CEO Tim Cook, discussing, among other things, “the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store.”

But the South Africa-born businessman has once again taken aim at Apple, as initially mentioned, and this latest criticism looks to have been set in motion by an announcement message about Twitter subscriptions.

“Note, it takes a few days longer for subscriptions to go active on iPhone vs web, as all subscriptions currently have to be approved by Apple,” Musk penned late last month.

“This is absurd… How would this scale with every creator on every platform on the internet?” Ek asked in a follow-up tweet two days later. “And what about if a platform thought the right fee was 0% or 10% instead of Apple’s 30%?”

“This is becoming a serious scaling challenge,” Musk replied shortly thereafter.

Though it’s unclear how many additional lawmaker sit downs are on the horizon for Musk (who met with Senator Chuck Schumer to discuss artificial intelligence last week), it goes without saying that his comments about and qualms with Apple could prove significant moving forward.

Moreover, Musk today expressed the belief that Apple’s little-used Twitter profile “would have many more followers if it posted content,” tweeted his plans to try out Spotify’s AI DJ, and even voiced his opinion on Ed Sheeran’s ongoing copyright infringement trial.

Worth highlighting in conclusion is that Apple scored a victory in its antitrust showdown with Fortnite developer (and Bandcamp owner) Epic Games about one week back. The presiding judge largely upheld a prior ruling in favor of Apple – while likewise upholding a partial judgement in favor of Epic under California’s Unfair Competition Law.