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Spotify CEO blasts Apple's 'unfair' policies that forces a 'tax' on rival subscription services

Key Points
  • Music streaming giant Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission's antitrust regulators, saying Apple Music has an "unfair advantage" over rivals.
  • In a blog post published Wednesday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said Apple's control of its App Store deprives consumers of choices and puts unfair restrictions, including fees, on competitors.
Daniel Ek, CEO and Founder of Spotify.
Getty Images

Music streaming giant Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission's antitrust regulators, saying Apple Music has an "unfair advantage" over rivals.

In a blog post published Wednesday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said Apple's control of its App Store deprives consumers of choices and puts unfair restrictions, including fees, on competitors. Ek said that after failing to resolve the issue directly with Apple, Spotify is seeking action from the European Commission.

"In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience — essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers," Ek said in the post.

Apple launched its own Apple Music streaming service as a competitor to Spotify in 2015. Apple was not immediately available when contacted by CNBC for comment.

According to Ek, Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to pay a 30 percent tax on purchases made through Apple's payment system. The fees makes it impossible for Spotify to keep its prices competitive with Apple Music, Spotify said. Ek added other apps on the App Store, including Uber and Deliveroo, are not subject to the "Apple tax."

Those fees are commonly referred to as a "tax" Apple imposes on app developers, but Apple characterizes it as a revenue share model for the App Store. Paid apps that don't have a subscription model are also required to give Apple a 30 percent cut of each sale.

Ek also accused Apple of blocking Spotify and other competitors from Apple's services such as Siri, Homepod and Apple Watch.

Spotify said it was launching the complaint in the EU and not the U.S. because the company is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Spotify went public on the New York Stock Exchange in an unusual direct listing last year.

The European Commission has taken a tough stance on antitrust issues related to big tech companies. Last year it imposed a record $5 billion fine on Google for violating antitrust rules.

"The Commission has received a complaint by Spotify, which we are assessing under our standard procedures," a Commission spokesperson told CNBC in an email Wednesday.

—Reuters contributed to this report