Spotify has made it clear that India is one of its key priorities for global expansion, post going public. Yet reports that some of its rightsholder partners are holding off on the necessary licensing agreements won’t go away.

This time it’s the Financial Times claiming that “the large record labels that control the music industry have not yet given Spotify the green light to license their songs in the country” – and citing recent reports of Spotify’s direct licensing deals with some artists as the reason for the delay.

Cue anonymous label-executive source saying India “is something Spotify wants, and we have not granted it yet: there’s a carrot-and-stick approach…

The emerging markets story is an important part of the [Spotify Wall Street] narrative. The lofty valuations are largely based on potential in those markets.” With only a million paying subscribers in a country with 216 million music-streaming listeners (according to Midia Research) there’s a lot of opportunity in India.

It may be tempting to wonder whether the rationale for licensing Spotify there should be about whether labels feel it can do a good job expanding the paid-subscriptions market or not in India, rather than the political issues around direct artist-licensing in the west.

However, as we wrote recently: the direct licensing may feel most threatening to labels in markets like India and across Africa – so it is no surprise that it is playing a role in negotiations.

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