Spotify sued by Warner Music ahead of India launch

Spotify is planning to introduce its service in India in the next few weeks

Spotify is planning to introduce its service in India in the next few weeks

The application (which you can read in full here) also went in to more detail about the dispute, claiming that Warner/Chappell "initially clarified that it was willing to grant Spotify a voluntary licence for India" before the publisher "suddenly - and shortly prior to Spotify's planned launch in India - refused to grant Spotify a licence for India without providing any reasonable grounds whatsoever for its refusal".

The reality of the situation seems to stem from issues with Warner's publishing arm, Warner/Chappell Music.

Spotify had been in talks to get a license for Warner's music but the streaming company "abruptly changed course" by falsely saying that a rule applicable to broadcasters applies to Spotify as well, Warner Music Group said in a statement.

In response, Warner filed for an injunction; Spotify claimed on Tuesday that the injunction was denied by a local court, with Warner contending that this was untrue.

The Swedish company had earlier announced a deal with T-Series, giving them rights to regional and Bollywood music for India.

"Warner Music Group instructed Warner/Chappell Music to file for an injunction in an attempt to leverage WCM's local Indian publishing rights, to extract concessions in WMG's global renewal negotiations for musical recordings", a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to Inc42.

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Under Spotify's current plan, it still wouldn't be able to offer music from Warner's record label, which represents Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and Cardi B. Publishing companies represent songwriters, while record labels work with the recording artist and producer.

"As we've said all along, we're hopeful for a negotiated solution with Warner based on market rates", a Spotify spokesperson told ETtech.

As per a Bloomberg report, Warner Music has taken to the Bombay High Court and filed an injunction to block Spotify from playing music from its catalogue on its streaming service. "We hope this is just a speed bump in the expansion of our long and successful global partnership".

"Under the statutory licence, Spotify will pay the WCM and their rights holders rates that are in-line with rates Spotify agreed to pay the leading Indian music entities, ensuring that everyone involved will benefit from the new audiences and significant revenue the Indian market will bring". However, with the injunction in place, Spotify will have an uphill climb in India and the fierce competition from apps like Gaana, Saavn, Amazon Prime and Apple Music is certainly not helping Spotify's case.

While other majors may be close to a licensing deal, Warner Music Group has been unable to agree terms. Spotify spokesperson later said, "We're pleased with today's outcome". Spotify is of the opinion that a deal with Warner is necessary for proceeding since the company owns a tiny percentage of a number of songs.

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