Warner Music Group has filed an injunction to halt the use of its music publishing rights as part of the launch of Spotify in India.
The move follows the streaming giant’s efforts to get the service up and running in a major new market as part of its growth strategy.
While other majors may be close to a licensing deal, Warner Music Group has been unable to agree terms. WMG took out the injunction in India when Spotify claimed a statutory licence usually applied to TV and radio.
A Warner Music spokesperson 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. It’s our goal to hammer out a deal that works for everyone. We hope this is just a speed bump in the expansion of our long and successful global partnership."
A spokesperson for 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 behaviour 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.”
WMG CEO Steve Cooper has also questioned the ambitions of DSPs such as Spotify to sign artists directly.
Spotify opening a Mumbai office last year ahead of the planned launch in the country. It has also expanded in Africa and the Middle East.