The dispute between Warner Chappell and Spotify in India is over. The publisher and streaming giant have today (January 14) agreed a multi-territory licensing deal.
The row reached the courts after Spotify launched in the territory almost a year ago without a licensing agreement with Warner Chappell Music.
A war of words was followed by a hearing in the Bombay High Court. Spotify claimed victory after the major was unable to secure an injunction to halt the DSP’s launch in India, though the case continued. To add insult to injury, the low price point in India 119 rupees monthly (£1.29) was at odds with comments by WMG CEO Steve Cooper about declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
But the arguments are now over as India is included in the new multi-territory agreement. The pending litigation has been dismissed at the request of Spotify and Warner.
“We’re happy with this outcome,” said a Warner Chappell spokesperson. “This new deal appropriately values our songwriters’ music and expands our licensed partnership with Spotify to include India.”
“In less than a year, millions of Indian listeners have joined Spotify, listening to their favourite artists and songwriters from across the globe,” said a Spotify spokesperson. “We’re pleased with this agreement, and together with Warner Chappell Music, we look forward to helping songwriters and artists connect with more fans, and for more fans to enjoy and be inspired by their music.”
While the terms have not been disclosed, Warner Chappell was clearly unwilling to see royalty rates slashed to accommodate the rollout of Spotify in emerging markets.
“You have to get fair value for your songwriters,” Warner Chappell CEO and co-chair Guy Moot recently told Music Week. “We’re doing our job. We’re in a world market, if you buy a German car, you don’t substantially discount it in India, just because it’s India. Look, we want to have a very healthy partnership – we don’t want confrontation. But in any relationship, you’re going to have a few ups and downs. We hope to resolve it, but we feel very strongly about it. This is going to set the tone for the future and other emerging markets. If you draw a map around the world, and some of the territories still to really engage and take up streaming, there’s a huge potential out there. But if we set the bar too low, there’s going to be nothing in it for songwriters.”
The new statements do not mention a licensing deal with Warner’s recorded music business, which remains under discussion.