Apple Under Antitrust Investigation for Streaming Music Deals

Apple Music was announced on Monday and is already the focus on an antitrust investigation. State Attorneys General from Connecticut and New York have teamed up to look into whether or not Apple violated antitrust laws with the deals it struck with record labels for its new streaming music service.

Apple facing antitrust investigation over streaming music dealsApple facing antitrust investigation over streaming music deals

The investigation centers on complaints that Apple colluded with record labels to restrict competition in the streaming music market by pushing for terms that kill ad-based free options from competing services such as Pandora, YouTube, and Spotify.

Some details of the investigation came out when New York's Attorney General posted a letter from Universal Music online. Universal acknowledges the investigation in its letter (PDF) and says it doesn't have any current agreements with Sony Music or Warner Music "to impede the availability of free or ad-supported music streaming services," and that it "does not currently have any agreements with Apple," either.

In other words, New York and Connecticut are investigating Apple, Sony, and Warner for potentially conspiring to shut down ad-supported streaming music.

Apple Music launches later in June with a three-month free trial and a US$9.99 price tag after that. The service includes a streaming music service, Internet radio, and a social service that lets artists connect with their fans.

This isn't the first time Apple has been under scrutiny from both states. The two partnered up with several other states in an antitrust investigation into allegations that Apple conspired with publishers to artificially raise the price of books. That case led to a US$450 million settlement following a ruling from a Federal Judge against Apple.

That ruling also forced Apple to allow a court appointed monitor into its offices to ensure that the company didn't engage in other antitrust-related activities.

Apple hasn't commented on this new investigation, and so far the investigation hasn't gone so far as to set a date for a trial.