Without a doubt, the two biggest music streaming services in the world are Spotify and Apple. And, in the spirit of colonial capitalism, the duo is now involved in an all-out war with one another, in what’s proving to be the hottest beef since the East Coast-West Coast rivalry of the 1990s.
But unlike the East Coast-West Coast rivalry of the 1990s, Apple and Spotify are keeping their shots limited to the proper shade in the press. While it’s humorous to watch, it’s worth knowing how it all started, and where it’s at today.
How It All Began
The first shot was thrown by Spotify, and it was thrown all the way back in 2015. According to The Verge, Spotify sent out an email to all Apple iPhone customers, informing them that while both Spotify and Apple were available for $9.99 a month, Apple charged its customers an additional 30% on all payments made through iTunes. The message followed up with a step-by-step guide for Apple iPhone customers to turn off auto-renew for iTunes, and a warning that the prospective customer couldn’t sign up for Spotify until they canceled their agreement with Apple iTunes first. While this could be viewed as a bit of a savage move on the part of Spotify, it bears noting that Spotify was also facing record losses at this time. Apple, too, was facing inquiries from the US Justice Department and FTC for, allegedly, pressuring record labels to dismantle Spotify’s free-streaming tier.
Since then, the rival streaming sites have been one-upping one another in the press, online, and on social media.
The Latest Beef
In the latest battle of the Spotify vs. Apple war, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek announced that the company filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Apple. Ek, who claimed that he did so in an attempt to preserve “an ecosystem in which fair competition is not only encouraged but guaranteed,” took the position that he was looking out for the consumer, and insisted it wasn’t a “Spotify-vs.-Apple” issue.
Not to be outdone, Apple responded by portraying itself as an “everyman” company that created thousands of jobs, while claiming that Spotify was doing little more than reaping the benefits of the Apple system without putting in any of the work to maintain it (they were dickriding, in other words).
The Classic Disses
In the latest melee, each company released statements that were, simply put, absolutely brutal. The point-counterpoint response by the two companies in the press has been nothing short of classic.
Round 1: The Anti-Trust Complaint
As was previously said, Spotify deployed the nuclear option when they filed a complaint against Apple with Europe’s EC regulatory body.
Round 2: The Moral Crusade
In their counter-point to Spotify’s depiction of Apple as being a greedy bully, Apple responded by saying that their issue was a “moral” one. Since they’re a creator of jobs and an advocate for the indie musician, Apple says they can’t be the problem — rather, it’s Spotify who wants their hands in cookie jars they have no business being in.
Round 3: It’s All About The Money
Both companies are saying that the practices of the other are affecting the bottom line.
Round 4: It’s A Monopoly
After Spotify and Apple went round-for-round in their initial complaints, Spotify upped the ante by taking to the press and calling Apple a “monopoly,” trying to paint it with the same brush that Microsoft was painted with many years ago.
Final Round: Who Wins?
At the end of the day, neither one wins in this “competition.” Companies, at the end of the day, are not human beings, and the push-and-pull for more revenue generally leaves a myriad of issues and people caught in the crossfire. (That includes the artists that use their respective platforms.)
This battle royale — this trading of “distinguished disses” between Spotify and Apple — is little more than a battle to get a larger market share.
Now the question is, who will emerge victorious at the end of the day?