If Spotify thought its entry into India was going to be a walk in the park, it’s learning some harsh lessons.
In February, the streaming company publicly fell out with Warner Music Group after the latter’s pubco, Warner/Chappell, refused to license Spotify for its launch in the region.
Spotify launched in India anyway, attempting to circumvent the need for a direct agreement with WMG by applying for a statutory license for Warner/Chappell’s music – a license which WMG claims is bogus.
The legal fallout from that situation is still ongoing.
Now, a new pain point for Spotify in India: the streaming service has just agreed to remove the content of the country’s oldest record company, Saregama, within the next fortnight.
The decision follows a copyright infringement suit against Spotify brought by Saregama and heard by Delhi’s High Court.
In the lawsuit, which you can read through here, Saregama claims that, although it entered into negotiations with Spotify for a copyright license – and even permitted Spotify to upload its content a month ahead of the platform’s launch in India – the two parties never actually inked a deal.
As a result of the suit, Spotify has held up its hands, agreeing that it will pull down Saregama’s catalog from its service over the next ten days.
Saregama is one of India’s leading record labels and music publishing companies, with a catalog that generated over a billion streams worldwide in calendar Q4 last year.
Music revenues contributed 92% of Saregama’s total sales in the last quarter of 2018 (its fiscal Q3), growing 68% year-on-year to Rs 138.5 crore (approximately $19.5m).
Saregama, with an HQ in Kolkata, India, is also behind the Saregama Caravan, a portable music player which comes pre-loaded with thousands of offline local songs.
The firm began operations in 1901 as a branch of EMI, later becoming The Gramophone Company, and is now owned by RPG Group.