Despite being in the midst of a legal battle, Spotify has launched in India. They first announced their plans to expand into India back in March 2018. But since then, there have been multiple delays. These delays were mainly due to the nature of India’s music marketplace.
But the biggest delay was with Warner/Chappell Music, which is the publishing division of Warner Music. They could not reach a deal with Spotify. They even took the streaming platform to court, after Spotify attempted to gain rights to WCM’s catalog through controversial means. Spotify is relying on an amendment to the Indian Copyright law. This amendment allows broadcasters to obtain licenses without the copyright owner’s consent. This is due, in part, to a very vague definition of “broadcast” as “communication to the public.”
It’s uncertain whether or not Spotify actually qualifies as a broadcaster in that sense, but that’s what they’re going with. Though they currently don’t have access to WCM’s catalog, which is home to a majority of today’s biggest stars, there have been numerous reports of people being able to successfully download the app in India.
If Spotify chooses to stream Warner music, they will be required to carefully track usage to pay the proper royalties. But even without the catalog, there are still plenty of things to listen to, including regional specifics like Tamil and Bollywood. And at the bottom of the app screen, there is a message “We’re working hard to get more music on Spotify in your region.”
At the moment, the price for a single month of premium costs 119 Rupees (around $1.67). Other offers include 3 months (389 Rupees), 6 months (719 Rupees), and one year (1,189 Rupees). All users will be able to obtain the premium service for free for the first 30 days. What will this mean for artists and royalties? Considering India is a massive marketplace, artists may take a hit.