Spotify CEO pushes for antitrust app store bill

Spotify announced Tuesday its acquisition of Heardle, a daily music guessing game. (Getty Images)

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is pushing Congress to take up an antitrust bill that aims to rein in the power of domain app companies. 

The CEO and founder of the audio streaming app will meet with key members of Congress and the Biden administration Wednesday and Thursday in a push to reinvigorate support for the proposal in his first visit to Washington to advocate for legislation. 

“Left unchecked, any company doing business through an app store lives and dies at the mercy of whomever is the gatekeeper at the time,” Ek said in a blog post published Wednesday.

“It’s like leasing retail space from one of the few landlords in town who can charge a huge rent, change any term of the lease at any moment’s notice, place its own competing store right next to yours, and then prohibit you from sharing any promotional signs or advertisements that may reveal cheaper prices to customers or any benefits that would enhance their experience in any other location,” he added. 

Ek is pushing Congress to pass the bipartisan Open App Markets Act, which advanced out of the Senate and House Judiciary committees last Congress but did not receive a floor vote

The bill aims to add guardrails for dominant app stores, mainly targeting those run by Apple and Google, including limiting the companies from collecting certain fees for in-app purchases and requiring apps to use solely one app store on their operating systems. 

In his blog post, Ek specifically calls out Apple, which also runs a rival audio streaming service, Apple Music. 

Google and Apple have pushed back strongly on allegations that their app stores have anticompetitive practices. Apple, which requires app developers to use its Apple App Store on iOS devices, argues their rules promote safe and secure app stores for users. 

Ek said the U.S. needs to “seize this pivotal moment to reshape the digital landscape, fostering a future of innovation, collaboration, and fair competition,” and added that he fears America “risks falling behind” as other countries put in place stricter competition regulations. 

The bill gained bipartisan support in both chambers, but it was never brought to a floor vote or added to omnibus legislation last year. In the Senate, the proposal may fair a better chance with the slim Democratic control. But in the House, GOP leaders have pledged to focus their tech agenda on content moderation battles and not antitrust bills targeting tech giants.

Tags antitrust antitrust Antitrust reform Apple big tech daniel ek Google Google Joe Biden Open App Markets Act Spotify Spotify Spotify

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