Just Days Away from Launching in India, Warner Music Group Files Injunction Against Spotify

Close to locking down deals with Sony and Universal, Spotify’s negotiations with Warner for licenses in India have hit a major obstacle.

Ramping up its plans to launch in India, Spotify opened an office in Mumbai, hiring 300 people last March.

The streaming music giant has also quietly spent months securing deals with major Indian rightsholders.  This includes T-Series, a major music and film company in the country.

T-Series boasts over 160,000 songs in its catalog.  The company also arguably has the most-viewed channel on YouTube in the world.  More than 80 million subscribers have reportedly viewed the company’s original videos over 58 billion times.

Spotify had reportedly prepared to launch its Indian service on January 31st.  With major labels holding out on much-needed licenses in the country, the streaming music giant apparently felt it had enough content to move forward.  The company had prepared a massive launch party to celebrate.

Subsequent rumors then pointed to an initial launch between February and March.

Now, days before the streaming music giant planned to roll out in India, one major music group may have indefinitely delayed Spotify’s plans.

When Warner says “No.”

At the High Court of Mumbai, Warner Music Group (WMG) has filed an injunction against Spotify.

This means that the streaming music giant won’t offer songs from the music group’s roster of songwriters in India.  This includes works from Katy Perry and Led Zeppelin, among many others.

According to a Warner spokesperson, Spotify had “falsely asserted a statutory license” in India for music publishing rights from WMG.

We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this.

The spokesperson explained that the streaming music giant had planned to use a specific Indian statute for broadcasters.  This governs how radio stations offer songs from WMG’s publishing division.

After negotiations had stalled for months, Spotify had apparently informed Warner last week it would use the statute.  The streaming music giant has yet to formally unveil licensing deals with the Big 3 – Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group.

In a statement lambasting the court filing, Spotify responded,

All other major labels and publishers have already agreed on economics and to license their music, and Spotify has also entered into a license with the local collecting society, while Warner/Chappell Music remains the lone hold-out needed for a Spotify launch in India.

WMG’s abusive behavior would harm many non-Warner artists, labels, and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market, leaving us no choice but to file for a statutory license.  This statutory license, which allows for application to internet-based services, prevents WMG’s abusive practices, while ensuring all rights holders are compensated fairly.

Defending its use of the Indian statute, the company added it will “continue to assess our options at this stage.”

According to a separate report, Spotify remains “days away” from launching in the country.  The streaming music giant also remains close to locking down deals with Sony Music and Universal.