UK ‘love affair’ with music streaming delivers for Britons, says antitrust watchdog

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The music streaming market dominated by a handful of major players is giving consumers a fair shake, the UK’s antitrust watchdog said in a much anticipated report, as it pulled back from a deeper investigation into the likes of Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc.

“The concentrated” nature of the market dominated by just a handful of players is not “currently causing consumers harm”, and “labels nor streaming services appear to be making sustained excess profits”, the Competition and Markets Authority said in a statement on July 26.

“On balance, the CMA’s initial analysis indicates that the market is delivering good outcomes for consumers,” it said. The initial review will be a relief for record labels and streamers who have long come under fire from artists for not paying them enough.

The UK’s “love affair” with music was said to be the reason the agency opened the probe earlier this year, investigating whether the sector was working for British audiences. The sweeping review looked at the roles played by both record labels and music streaming services including Spotify and those provided by Amazon.com Inc, Apple and Alphabet Inc.

Still, Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said even if consumers were being treated fairly, there were still concerns about what artistes got out of streaming music.

“For many artistes it is just as tough as it has always been, and many feel that they are not getting a fair deal,” she said. “Our initial analysis shows that the outcomes for artistes are not driven by issues to do with competition, such as sustained excessive profits.”

The CMA’s study is still live and will continue accepting feedback up until Aug 19. – Bloomberg

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