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After Legal Challenge, Spotify Launches In India

By Max / Published on Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019 17:05 PM / No Comments / 631 views

After months of delays and a last-minute legal intervention, Spotify has finally launched in India. 

The popular global streaming brand flicked the switch on its service late Tuesday in India, boasting a premium product priced at just INR 119 ($ 1.67) per month and a library of 40 million songs. 

Spotify, which can be accessed via Android or iOS app store, will compete with established local players Gaana and JioSaavn, while international brands Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music got a head start. 

With its arrival in India, Spotify boasts 79 markets around the globe with 207 million users. Of those, some 96 million are paid subscribers, a ratio of almost 2 to 1.

“As Spotify grows,” said Daniel Ek, Spotify founder and CEO in a statement, “our goal is to bring millions of artists and billions of fans together from every country and background.”

For Spotify, India isn’t just another market. It's a potential goldmine, at least in terms of driving its subscription numbers. India's population has raced past 1.3 billion, second only to China, and its market for mobile apps is reportedly surging. More than 400 million Indian consumers are said to be connected to the Internet.

In India, local content is king. And Bollywood rules. The IFPI’s Music Consumer Insight Report 2018 reveals “Bollywood new,” “Bollywood old,” and “Indian classical music,” are the most popular respective genres in the market.

Spotify geared up for its entry by striking an arrangement with leading music/film company T-Series to license more than 160,000 songs, including Bollywood soundtracks. The Sweden-originated tech firm also secured a license with the domestic collecting society, and entered content talks with all three major labels, local labels, publishers and indies.  

“India has an incredibly rich music culture and to best serve this market,” notes Ek, “we’re launching a custom-built experience. Not only will Spotify bring Indian artists to the world, we’ll also bring the world’s music to fans across India. Spotify’s music family just got a whole lot bigger.”

Spotify’s entry wasn’t a seamless one. Just days out from launch, Warner Music Group filed an injunction to stop the firm from illegitimately using its publishing rights in India. WMG’s roadblock ignited a war of words with Spotify and, ultimately, the involvement of the Bombay High Court. A day after WMG filed for an interim injunction, the court decided that Spotify must pause its application for a statutory license, and deferred the music giant’s application for an injunction for a several-week period.

Spotify said this week that Warner/Chappell "remains the lone holdout needed" to launch in the country.

The court has instructed Spotify to maintain an audit of all uses of Warner music, and to deposit any revenues with the court. One industry source told Billboard, if Spotify launches during this limbo period, they'll do so knowing the court hasn't decided whether they'd be infringing on songwriters' copyrights.

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