Photo Credit: Akhil Arora/Gadgets 360
Nearly a year since its launch in India, Spotify might soon be a viable option — hopefully. The Sweden-headquartered music streaming service has signed a multi-territory licensing agreement, including India, with Warner Chappell — a division of Warner Music Group — which could pave the way to bring an end to the impasse that had kept millions of songs off its platform in the country. As requested by both Spotify and Warner, the court has dismissed pending litigation. Mind you, this doesn't solve Spotify's licensing troubles with Warner Music, which are separate from the Warner Chappell lawsuit.
Hence as of now, there isn't any change to Spotify's catalogue in India, though the new deal has ensured that Spotify wouldn't lose more music that had been published by Warner Chappell. Gadgets 360 has asked Spotify India for comment on what's happening with the discussions with Warner Music, whose absence from Spotify's catalogue in India has kept music from artists such as Linkin Park, Led Zeppelin, Katy Perry, and Paramore among others off the service since launch.
“In less than a year, millions of Indian listeners have joined Spotify, listening to their favourite artists and songwriters from across the globe. We're pleased with this agreement, and together with Warner Chappell Music, we look forward to helping songwriters and artists connect with more fans, and for more fans to enjoy and be inspired by their music,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement, to which a Warner Chappell spokesperson added: “We're happy with this outcome. This new deal appropriately values our songwriters' music and expands our licensed partnership with Spotify to include India.”
Spotify launched in India last February without a deal in place with Warner Music or Warner Chappell, instead opting to go with a statutory license route for the latter that allowed it to get away with paying a lot less. In India, Spotify is priced much lower than it is globally — Rs. 119 a month, about $1.7 — to allow it to compete in the market, where the likes of Apple Music and YouTube Music (both Rs. 99 a month, or $1.4) are in line with local competitors. But Warner Chappell wasn't happy with Spotify's approach, filed an injunction, and took the streaming service to court. Except in April, Spotify's outgoing CFO Barry McCarthy said the dispute wasn't “really about India; it's about leverage and renegotiation of the global agreement.”
The new deal between Spotify and Warner Chappell is good news in itself, though it remains to be seen if or when this might lead to talks with Warner Music. That's in addition to Spotify's local music hurdle, thanks to a tiff with Saregama.
Editor's note 17/01: The article has been updated to clarify that Spotify had two different issues with Warner in India, one with Warner Chappell and Warner Music. While the former has now been resolved, there is no update on the latter.