Spotify launches in India amid court battle with Warner Music Group

Spotify launches in India amid court battle with Warner Music Group
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27 Feb, 2019

Music streaming service Spotify has launched its services in India, a year after the company leased office space in Mumbai. It has also been in the process of partnering with Indian music labels including T-Series. The company had appointed former chief of OLX India, Amarjit Singh Batra, as its managing director in April 2018.

The launch on Tuesday comes a day after the third-largest music company in the world, Warner Music Group, moved the Mumbai High Court filing an injunction against Spotify, claiming that the streaming service had “abruptly changed course” in licencing negotiations with Warner, which was left with no choice but to take legal recourse, according to multiple media reports.

The court has deferred the application for the injunction while also asking Spotify not to pursue proceedings for claiming statutory license with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board for a period of four weeks. Spotify has also been asked to maintain an audit of its use of Warner Music and deposit any revenue with the court. It has been asked to deposit Rs 6.5 crore ahead of its India launch, according to a report in the Times of India.

For its launch in the country, Spotify did not sign a licencing agreement with Warner Music and instead opted for a statutory licence, which is applicable to broadcasters automatically. However, it has licencing agreements with Universal and Sony in place.

With Spotify's entry in the country, Indian users can access the firm's repertoire of 4 crore songs and 300 playlists. 

“Spotify pioneered music streaming a decade ago, and has constantly reinvented itself to bring the best music experience to the world, and now to India. Through our unmatched personalised experience, we want users to find the best music from India and the world, and empower Indian artists to find new audiences in India and worldwide," said Batra, Spotify India's MD in a statement.

That said, Spotify has launched its service on the web and on mobile applications, pricing the subscription at Rs 119 per month and student plans which offer 50% discount on the plan. A week-long premium subscription by Spotify has been priced at Rs 39 and annual subscription at Rs 1,189. For paying customers, credit and debit cards are the mode of payment while it also has the option for paying through Paytm and UPI for its short term plans.

The differential pricing will help Spotify gain initial traction in a market where it competes with players that offer free trials and other services. Jio-Saavn has a free 90-day trial period for Jio users with ads, Gaana is priced at Rs 99 per month and Amazon Prime Music at Rs 129 per month which comes with a bundle of other services and Prime access.

Spotify’s offers its music service in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu languages.