Last.Fm founder says Apple just f’d over online music subscriptions

Fri, Feb 18, 2011


Apparently not one to mince words, founder Richard Jones lambasted Apple for their recently announced app store subscription rules.

“Apple just fucked over online music subs for the iPhone,” Jones wrote in an IRC chat earlier this week. Two days ago, Rhapsody also chastised Apple’s new policy, explaining that giving Apple a 30% cut on all subscriptions originating from an iOS app wasn’t economically viable.

Taking things further, Jones angrily theorized that by effectively preventing subscription services like Rhapsody and Spotify from thriving on iTunes, Apple is paving the way for its own music subscription service where it will, surprise surprise, face little to no competition. Apple, though, has expressed little, if any, interest in setting up a subscription music service. Steve Jobs famously likes to say that “people want to own their music, not rent it.” But let’s say Apple pulls an about face and offers iTunes subscriptions down the line, the anti-competitive implications of Apple’s 30% subscription rule might then carry some weight. As it stands now, it’s hard to plausibly argue that Apple is in violation of anti-trust regulations when market competition with the iOS app store and the iPhone is immense.

Jones, however, does acknowledge that subscriptions via a dedicated app is simpler than via the web, and while he appreciates the inherent ease of use for consumers, he’s none too thrilled about what this means for subscription services.

“I don’t imagine spotify’s margins are anywhere near 30%, so subs via itunes are useless to them,” Jones said. “So basically, people on the iphone will *always* subscribe using itunes, because it’s easier… better for the consumer, except many services can’t survive a 30pc loss of revenue.”

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom Says:

    I think we can see the corporate-centric business models at work, as industry after industry balks at Apple’s consumer-centric approach. When iTunes started with music, the labels screamed unfair. They couldn’t gouge us like before! When ITunes moved on to movies, the production studios couldn’t gouge us like before. App developers and tv studios have all screamed against apple because their dealings with iTunes is consumer-centric, too! Now it’s the print publishers who are stuck between a rock of collapsing markets and a hard place of the iTunes ecosystem on vast numbers of iDevices and Macs, and we hear some new screaming! It’s not the consumer who is screaming, just the guys who have been taking our personal info at will to feed their greed thru ads, ads, and more ads!

  2. Mysid Says:

    Perhaps, Spotify, and Rhapsody just need to charge a subscription fee 43% higher to iPhone users and explain this is how much extra it costs to be available on that platform than others, due to the Apple tax?

  3. Ted Says:

    Mysid: They can’t raise iphone prices higher than their other platforms, due to other provisions in the Apple license prohibiting this. Adobe is having such a hard time with this that they’re thinking of scrapping Kindle support for the iOS.

    Just don’t buy or use Apple. I don’t and am happy.

  4. Hah Says:

    I haven’t paid for music in over 10 years. Apple sux too.

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