Spotify ramped up its battle with Warner Music Group on Tuesday, launching in India without a signed deal with the Warner/Chappell music publishing arm of the world's third largest music group. WMG had failed on Monday to get a court injunction to stop the launch.
Spotify Premium will cost 119 rupees / $1.67 per month in India, similar to Apple Music there.
Spotify presumably has deals in place with the other major labels and publishers. For WMG it will rely on a statutory licence previously only used for TV and radio broadcasts. The courts in India have thus far failed to redefine "broadcast" in the digital era.
Danger For Both Sides
During this very public dispute and court action, both sides have been unusually combative. Spotify called out what it said was WMG's "abusive behavior," and implied that the major had reneged on an agreed upon deal. WMG bit back, saying, "Spotify's comments yesterday about our fair market negotiations were appalling to us, and we’re shocked that they would exploit the valuable rights of songwriters without a license."
The stakes for both sides are high.
Spotify has angered one of its most important content partners. just as it enters into global licencing renegotiations. And while the courts have required that Spotify keep a careful accounting of possible royalties, they could prevail in the courts or drag it out for years. That sould mean WMG songwriters getting paid less that their counterparts at other companies.