Apple in talks with major labels to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch: reports

Apple is reportedly in talks with major labels to get them to remove their music from free streaming services like Spotify, and even YouTube.

According to The Verge, which cited unnamed sources, the Department of Justice was investigating the business practices of Apple after it reportedly approached various labels to remove their music from free streaming services in a bid to give a leg up to its Beats streaming service which is set to relaunch later this year.

Also The New York Post reported, ''Apple is being probed by the European Union's Competition Commission to find out if the company is working with the labels to rid the industry of freemium services.''

Spotify currently counts 60 million users, of which only 15 million pay for a monthly subscription.

The Verge's sources ''also indicated that Apple offered to pay YouTube's music licensing fee to Universal Music Group if the label stopped allowing its songs on YouTube.''

According to commentators, this was not just some half-baked attempt to simply jack up numbers, but amounted to a full assault on the current model of music distribution and consumption.

Meanwhile, Grooveshark, a music streaming site closed down on 30 April after years of litigation. The site allowed users to upload copyrighted songs, which raised the hackles of major labels.

Even as streaming services like Spotify, see rapid growth, cooperating with the music industry, Grooveshark's website shut as the company avoided potential penalties amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Grooveshark, which had 30 million monthly users, said in a message on the site that following an agreement with three major record label conglomerates it had ceased operations with immediate effect and would hand over copyrighted song files.

"We started out nearly 10 years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music," the message said.

"But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.

"That was wrong. We apologise. Without reservation," it said.

Founded in 2006 by three students at the University of Florida, it was one of the first sites that, in effect, allowed users to listen to music on-demand for free.