We reported yesterday that a legal challenge by Warner Music Group had stopped Spotify from rolling out across India, that legal challange was then succeafully challanged this morning by Spotify, and now Spotify is live in India but without Warner Music Group’s artists.
Spotify first announced plans to expand into the Indian market back in March of 2018, but has faced repeated delays due to the unique nature of India’s music rights marketplace. Scores of local Indian labels and publishers make it challenging to pull all the rights together, there are multiple regional languages to contend with, and only a small percentage of Indians have a credit card.
But the biggest delay was a deal with Warner’s publishing division, Warner/Chappell Music, that fell apart at the last minute. According to Spotify, Warner “revoked a previously agreed-upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify’s launch in India.”
Yesterday, Warner sued to stop Spotify’s use of its catalog, which Spotify had tried to obtain rights to through a controversial amendment to the Indian copyright act that allows for broadcasters to obtain licenses without the copyright owner’s consent. At the heart of this is whether or not Spotify falls under the umbrella of “broadcaster” in India’s Copyright Act of 1957. In the act, a “broadcast” is only defined as “communication to the public.”
In India, Spotify’s pricing structure offers a lot more payment flexibility than other markets. The service can cost as little a 99 rupees ($1.39 USD) per month for a one-year plan. But the service also offers the ability to buy just a single day of access for 13 rupees ($0.18), one week for 39 rupees ($0.55), and one single month for 129 rupees ($1.81), among other plans. A student plan offers up to 50 percent off per month. As of now, it appears the only payment accepted for subscriptions is Visa or Mastercard, but there’s the option to also use Paytm or UPI to buy the pre-paid plans.
Right now, according to Business Insider India, Premium membership is only available to existing Spotify users. New users can still sign up for the free version, but will have to wait in order to access Premium benefits like higher quality audio and unlimited track skips.