Spotify says Apple isn’t playing fair when it comes to competing for music fans.
The Swedish music streaming company has filed a complaint against Apple with European antitrust officials, accusing it of giving its own music service an unfair advantage over competitors.
“Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience,” Spotify’s founder and CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post.
He said Spotify (SPOT) had asked the European Commission to intervene after “trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple.”
Apple (AAPL) did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.
Ek said that Apple requires Spotify and other content providers to pay a 30% fee on purchases made through Apple’s in-app payment system.
Apple Music doesn’t have to pay the fee, which Spotify claims puts its competitors at a disadvantage.
Spotify said that when it agreed to Apple’s demands to pay the fee in 2014, it had to raise its subscription from €9.99 ($11.30) to €12.99 ($14.70) — just as Apple was releasing its Apple Music service for €9.99.
“To our fans, this just looked like we were ripping you off,” the company said in a statement posted on a campaign website it has launched to support its complaint.
Spotify opted out of the payment system in 2016, but that meant it also had to pull its premium subscription service from the app store. Only the free, ad-supported version is still available in the app store.
“If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music,” Ek said. “And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do.”
Ek argued that other apps offering services via Apple, such as Uber or Deliveroo, do not have to pay.
“We should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions — including Apple Music,” he said.
He also said Apple prevents Spotify from sharing information about deals with its users and does not allow the service to be played on Siri, HomePod and Apple Watch.
Apple has long struggled to compete with Spotify in music streaming. When Spotify launched in 2008, Apple dominated the music downloads market with iTunes and wasn’t too worried about streaming.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said the watchdog has received Spotify’s complaint and is now considering it. There is no deadline for it to conclude that process. The spokesperson would not comment on whether Apple faced similar complaints from other companies.
The European Commission has acted on complaints before. It imposed multi-billion dollar antitrust penalties on Google (GOOGL) for abusing its dominant position with regard to Android devices, its AdSense advertising service and Google (GOOGL) shopping after competitors asked it to investigate.