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Spotify launches in India despite licensing row with WMG


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Yes, Spotify *has* launched in India, despite yesterday’s confusion surrounding a court ruling on Warner Music Group’s request for an injunction to prevent the streaming service taking a statutory licence for its publishing catalogue. Amid reports that Spotify had gone live yesterday afternoon, the company initially declined to comment, before pressing the button overnight on its official announcement.

There are some important differences to the service elsewhere in the world. “For the first time on Spotify Free, smartphone users can play every song on demand,” revealed the blog post. Multi-language music recommendations are part of the mix too: users can choose their preferred language (out of Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu) to tailor their recommendations on Spotify. There are also playlists based on popular movies and actors – an important mode of discovery in India – as well as algorithmic playlists of trending tracks in cities Mumbai, Delhi, Bangaluru, and Chennai.

Spotify will be charging INR 119 a month for a subscription in India – around $1.67, which undercuts Apple Music’s price, albeit by only one rupee. Another difference to other markets: Spotify is offering prepaid plans in India, with the option to pay for a day, a week, a month, three months, six months or a year using various payment methods.

“We see a huge potential in the market with music fans who have yet to migrate onto a preferred streaming platform,” said Spotify’s MD for India Amarjit Batra in a ‘4 Questions (And Answers)’ interview published on Spotify’s blog – unsurprisingly, none of those questions related to the dispute with Warner Music Group.

CFO Barry McCarthy did address the row yesterday at a conference organised by Morgan Stanley, though. “I want to choose my words carefully! We’re having a food fight with Warner. Lots of drama. Can’t comment on the legal aspects of it,” said McCarthy. “It’s not really about India, it’s about leverage and renegotiation of the global agreement.”

That’s unlikely to sooth the troubled waters between Spotify and WMG. The dispute does appear to have had an effect on the Indian launch: according to our Indian correspondent, searching for Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ brings up plenty of covers but not the original recording – Spotify’s most-streamed track of all-time globally. The track was released through WMG, although its publishing sits outside Warner/Chappell. We’ll have more from you about what is and isn’t missing from Spotify’s India launch, as it gets up and running.

Stuart Dredge

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