Nearly a year since its launch in India, Spotify might finally be a viable option. The Sweden-headquartered music streaming service has signed a multi-territory licensing agreement, including India, with Warner Chappell — the publishing division of Warner Music Group — which paves the way to bring an end to the impasse that had kept millions of songs, from artists such as Linkin Park and Paramore, off its platform in the country. As requested by both Spotify and Warner, the court has dismissed pending litigation. At the time of writing, there doesn’t seem to be any change to Spotify’s catalogue in India, though that might be down to the complex nature of how music licensing and publishing works.
“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, instead opting to go with a statutory license route 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 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 is sure to be music to most Indian ears, though it remains to be seen when the missing songs will be available to stream. Maybe now it can focus on its next hurdle: Saregama.