FTC Sues Amazon Over Alleged Monopolistic Business Practices — What Does This Mean for Amazon Music?

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Amazon is facing allegations of anticompetitive and monopolistic business practices in a lawsuit filed by the FTC and 17 state attorneys general. Photo Credit: Marques Thomas

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 17 state attorneys general are officially suing the Twitch, Amazon Music, and Amp owner Amazon over alleged monopolistic and anticompetitive business practices.

The FTC and attorneys general from states including New York, Michigan, and New Mexico just recently announced and submitted the multifaceted action, which spans north of 170 pages. Within the heavily redacted public version of the complaint, the filing parties outline all manner of qualms with the alleged “monopolist” Amazon.

Among many other broad topics, the claims pertain to the “overcharging” of customers, the use of “antidiscounting tactics to discipline sellers,” and the implementation of an “unfair” pricing system called Project Nessie. But Amazon Music itself doesn’t appear to be a focus area within the bigger-picture action, which only features the word “music” three times throughout its unredacted text.

Of course, from the music industry perspective, Amazon Music (and its various services) is hardly a monopoly. That said, amid a battle for users with today’s leading music platform, Spotify, as well as the likes of Apple Music, YouTube Music, Pandora, Tidal, and Deezer, the Amazon-owned platform is highly competitive.

Predictably, a number of Amazon Music’s attempts to gain an edge on different platforms in the space have capitalized upon the ecommerce status, massive shipping and processing infrastructure, and ample resources of Amazon proper. Prime subscribers, for instance, pay $9.99 per month for Amazon Music Unlimited as opposed to $10.99 per month for non-Prime subscribers.

To this point in 2023, Amazon Music has also released several spatial audio exclusives and doubled down on its live-concert investments by closing streaming agreements covering J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival, Stagecoach, Primavera Sound, and Life Is Beautiful.

Plus, the overarching Amazon’s years-long Thursday Night Football broadcast deal appeared to lay the groundwork for Amazon Music Live and, in turn, post-game performances from a variety of commercially prominent acts. Thus far, Live‘s second season has delivered a set from Ed Sheeran, with Feid slated to take the stage tomorrow.

Worth noting in conclusion is that Amazon Music, having integrated merchandise into its app back in March of 2021, last month unveiled a merch tie-up with Bandsintown. Under the pact, close to 600,000 Bandsintown for Artists-enrolled professionals can utilize “free marketing tools to easily promote their merch and music,” according to Amazon Music, which has operated a “global developing artist program” called Breakthrough since July of 2020.