Spotify slams Warner’s ‘abusive behavior’ in ugly India fallout, accuses major of reneging on agreed deal

Things are getting nasty between Spotify and Warner.

As MBW reported earlier today (February 25), Warner Music Group is suing the streaming service in India via an injunction which has been filed in public court in the territory. This injunction aims to prevent Spotify from being able to gain rights to the Warner/Chappell (publishing) catalog in India via a statutory license.

This statutory license is most commonly used by broadcasters in the region to clear the performance rights to music for TV and radio.

Spotify is attempting to use it to gain permission to use Warner/Chappell’s repertoire – which contains the rights to over 1 million copyrights – because the latter’s parent, Warner Music Group, has refused to ink a deal giving the platform access to its publishing catalog.

Now, Spotify has hit back. The streaming company has accused Warner Music Group of reneging on a “previously agreed upon publishing license”, while slamming the major music company for “abusive behavior would harm many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market”.

“WMG’s abusive behavior would harm many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market, leaving us no choice but to file for a statutory license. This statutory license, which allows for application to internet-based services, prevents WMG’s abusive practices, while ensuring all rights holders are compensated fairly.”

Spotify statement

In a surprisingly strong statement, Spotify said: “Warner Music Group (WMG) instructed Warner/Chappell Music (WCM) to file for an injunction in an attempt to leverage WCM’s local Indian publishing rights, to extract concessions in WMG’s global renewal negotiations for musical recordings. WMG revoked a previously agreed upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify’s launch in India.

“All other major labels and publishers have already agreed on economics and to license their music, and Spotify has also entered into a license with the local collecting society, while WCM remains the lone hold-out needed for a Spotify launch in India.

“WMG’s abusive behavior would harm many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market, leaving us no choice but to file for a statutory license. This statutory license, which allows for application to internet-based services, prevents WMG’s abusive practices, while ensuring all rights holders are compensated fairly.

“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. We will continue to assess our options at this stage.”

“How, exactly can you revoke a deal that’s never been signed in the first place?”

Industry source

An industry source reached out to MBW shortly after this story was published to say: “How, exactly can you revoke a deal that’s never been signed in the first place?”

An interesting point, but Spotify may counter by suggesting that Warner/Chappell’s million-plus copyrights are spread throughout the world’s most popular songs in myriad ways.

In other words, if a songwriter signed to Warner/Chappell has a minority credit on a global pop hit, that track will not be able to be cleared in India without W/C’s blessing – even if the majority of its publishing rights, not to mention the entirely of its master/recorded rights, have been cleared by Universal Music Group or Sony’s music companies.Music Business Worldwide

Related Posts