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Spotify print campaign takes aim at Apple’s anti-competitive business practices


By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

October 10, 2023 | 6 min read

The audio streaming platform signals its support for the UK’s new antitrust bill – and targets Apple – in a print campaign running in national newspapers this week.

Spotify logo

Spotify is urging UK regulators to crack down on what it views as Apple's anti-competitive behavior in digital markets / Adobe Stock

Spotify is marking its 15th year in the UK market with a major print campaign calling for a more fair and equitable digital ecosystem.

Ads running in national newspapers including The Times, Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard signal the brand’s support for the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (DMCC).

The bill, which is currently progressing through the UK Parliament, aims to level the digital playing field by limiting the dominance of a handful of major tech companies. Crucially, it seeks to establish new thresholds for mergers and acquisitions, stem the spread of fake reviews, eliminate subscription traps and tamp down on predatory pricing tactics.

Expected to be enacted later this year, the DMCC in many ways mirrors the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which, passed last year, regulates the consumer data privacy and competition practices of big tech companies. UK regulators claim the DMCC offers a “more targeted and pro-innovation approach” for the UK. The DMCC will apply to digital firms with a global turnover of more than £25bn or a UK turnover of over £1bn and will be enforceable by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Spotify, for its part, takes issue with what it sees as anti-competitive practices by Apple. “Apple and other big tech companies like it are causing UK consumers to pay more and controlling their digital lives,” said Tom Connaughton, managing director of Spotify UK and Ireland, in a statement.

Connaughton believes that the DMCC will help protect consumer choice and increase transparency and fairness. As he puts it: “The DMCC will do more for UK consumers than any bill before it and may force companies like Apple to give consumers lower and more competitive prices and payment options for apps online; give consumers the right to be aware of different options and offers; offer consumers more access to services from more UK and global companies.”

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The new ad campaign features straightforward, text-focused creative. Bold white text against a Spotify green background reads: “Here’s to 15 years of Spotify in the UK.” The ad goes on to explain that “all companies should have the opportunity to grow and thrive in the UK like we did, so they can serve you incredible content and the best digital experiences.” The brand asserts that the DMCC will “improve the products you love and give you better access to the content and services you want – without being overcharged, misled or kept in the dark.”

Spotify DMCC ad

Ultimately, the brand says, the DMCC will lower the barriers to entry for newcomers in the digital media space – making way for “the Spotifys of the future.”

The ads, running this week in the UK market, are part of the brand’s ‘Time to Play Fair’ initiative, which aims to tackle Apple’s outsized industry advantage and improve digital products for consumers.

Spotify has, in recent years, become among the most vocal of Apple’s critics, accusing the iPhone maker of taking an unfair cut of its subscription fees and urging EU and UK regulators to crack down on the company’s business practices.

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