Apple may be better positioned to crush free internet radio, as rival Spotify reported net losses in 2014 of $197m, up near 300% from $68m a year earlier.

The losses come as extremely well funded Apple, already with a massive captive user base, looks to launch a similar service in about a month. The news could signal Apple can leverage its financial muscle more than previously thought.

A proposed Apple service would cost $10 per month and have no free tier. Should Spotify’s losses continue it could be forced to abandon its free tier, putting it on much more even footing with the smartphone giant.

Stockholm, Sweden based Spotify blamed international expansion, recruiting more staff and product development for the losses. The company’s employee headcount grew to 1,354 last year when it hired a further 396 people.

While profits were sharply lower sales climbed to $1.3bn, up 45 per cent from 2013.

In January, Spotify reported a global subscriber base of 15 million, hardly the type of scale Apple is used to.

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