Spotify could launch in India over the next 24 hours, after the Bombay High Court denied Warner/Chappell’s request for an injunction earlier today (February 26).
The music publisher wanted to block Spotify’s attempt to clear performance rights for its music via an Indian statutory licence which is more commonly used by TV and radio broadcasters.
A Spotify spokesperson just told MBW: “We’re pleased with today’s outcome. It ensures songwriters, artists, labels and publishers will benefit from the financial opportunity of the Indian market and that consumers will enjoy an excellent Spotify experience. As we’ve said all along, we’re hopeful for a negotiated solution with Warner based on market rates.”
They added that their statement was “based on the court’s decision today to deny Warner/Chappell’s request for an injunction”.
UPDATE: Warner Music Group is offering a rather different version of events. The company says Spotify’s comments above (“deny Warner/Chappell’s request…”) are not true, and that the Bombay’s High Court’s decision is on hold for four weeks. Read more through here.
Even if Spotify does manage to successfully clear performance rights through the statutory license in India, a big question mark remains over the mechanical rights to Warner/Chappell’s repertoire, which covers more than a million copyrights.
Industry sources tell MBW that Spotify, which is very keen to get its launch in India underway, may press the green button on its service’s public arrival in the territory over the next few hours.
“We’re pleased with today’s outcome. It ensures songwriters, artists, labels and publishers will benefit from the financial opportunity of the Indian market and that consumers will enjoy an excellent Spotify experience.”
Yesterday (February 25), Spotify accused Warner/Chappell owner, Warner Music Group, of “abusive behavior”, suggesting that the major music rights company reneged on a previously agreed deal at the last minute.
Spotify also suggested that, after lengthy negotiations, it had now cleared both recorded music and publishing rights with Warner’s two biggest rivals, Universal Music Group and Sony. The firm said that Warner/Chappell “remains the lone hold-out needed for a Spotify launch in India”.
In its statement, WMG said: “After months of negotiations, Spotify abruptly changed course and has falsely asserted a statutory license for our songwriters’ music publishing rights in India. We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this.”
A Spotify spokesperson countered: “Under the statutory license, Spotify will pay WCM and their rights holders rates that are in-line with the rates Spotify agreed to pay the leading Indian music entities, ensuring everyone involved will benefit from the new audiences and significant revenue the Indian market will bring.”
One industry insider in India told MBW: “Word is getting out about this, and there’s almost panic here in India about the possibility that Spotify would force through a statutory license for these Warner publishing rights. There’s a feeling that would set a very dangerous precedent for the whole market.”Music Business Worldwide