Spotify’s India Launch Is Imminent as Company Reveals Pricing

Spotify’s long-delayed launch in India appears imminent — and could take place as soon as Tuesday night, sources say — as the company has revealed pricing in the territory, the second most-populous country in the world. Its premium service will be free for 30 days and then will be 119 rupees (around $1.67) per month — one rupee less expensive than Apple Music in the country — there are also single-day, week and month plans, as well as three-month (Rs 389), six-month (Rs 719) and annual (Rs 1,189); students receive a 50% discount.

It also will offer a free ad-supported tier, as to most of the many major streaming services already available in the country.

While no official announcement has been made, Spotify’s long-delayed launch in India is expected imminently, possibly within hours.

The pricing news comes amid a contentious battle between Spotify and Warner Music Group in the country, one that has come with uncharacteristically harsh words exchanged. India has been a major point of conflict between the streaming service and the major music companies in recent months, as Spotify attempts to make up for lost time in the territory with aggressive pricing, while the majors were unhappy with the royalties they would receive due to that aggressive pricing. While Spotify has secured deals with Sony Music and Universal in the territory, their negotiations with Warner — which remain “far apart” from mutually acceptable terms — have grown belligerent.

As a workaround, Spotify is claiming a statutory license meant for TV and radio broadcasters; in response, Warner filed an injunction in India that aims to bar Spotify’s access to songs published by the major’s Warner/Chappell company, which holds the rights to more than 1 million songs. The dispute has become contentious as Spotify accused Warner of “abusive behavior” that harms “many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers.”

Spotify claims that injunction was denied on Tuesday; Warner called that assessment “a lie.”  While court papers were not available at press time, according to a source cited in Music Business Worldwide, the situation is in a four-week holding pattern as the court seeks further documentation of Spotify’s use and listeners’ consumption of Warner/Chappell titles in the country.

Meanwhile, both sides claimed the upper hand in statements issued early Tuesday morning. A Spotify rep said: “We’re pleased with today’s outcome. It ensures songwriters, artists, labels and publishers will benefit from the financial opportunity of the Indian market and that consumers will enjoy an excellent Spotify experience. As we’ve said all along, we’re hopeful for a negotiated solution with Warner based on market rates.”

In response, Warner Music said: “We welcome the Court’s decision to direct Spotify to deposit monies with the Court and to maintain complete records of any use of our music as well as all advertising and subscription revenue earned by Spotify. These are positive steps to protect our songwriters’ interests. We’re also pleased that Spotify cannot pursue proceedings for their claim to a statutory license before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board for a period of 4 weeks. Our copyright infringement case will continue on an expedited basis. We remain optimistic that we can reach a strong, balanced commercial agreement.”

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