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Spotify launches in India as court suspends Warner Music Group’s injunction

After a year of planning and repeated legal clashes with Warner Music Group, Spotify has finally managed to launch its music distribution platform in India. The company has made a range of unprecedented changes to its service, redefining its free tier and premium payments in the country.

Seeing India as one of the fastest-growing music markets today, Spotify initially announced its intentions to enter the region last year. These plans were ultimately interrupted by Warner’s publishing division, Warner/Chappell Music, which continues to push the platform to pay for worldwide rights to its music catalogue rather than per country.

These issues were seemingly resolved last year, allowing Spotify to continue its launch in India. Invoking a controversial amendment in the country’s copyright law that allows broadcasters to obtain licenses without the express permission of the owner flared up further legal action, as Warner Music Group filed another injunction with the Bombay High Court which Spotify chastises as “abusive behaviour.”

According to the Times of India, the court has approved Spotify to launch its platform in India while the case is still on-going, but under set conditions. The service is required to track the usage of each artist within Warner/Chappell’s music catalogue, allocating the appropriate funds to pay royalties when the case proceeds.

Spotify has wasted no time in quietly launching the service in India with Warner/Chappell’s catalogue notably omitted. Business Insider India states that Premium membership is only available to existing users while new users are confined to the free version. Although users of Spotify Free will have to trudge through advertisements and lower-quality tracks, the platform has made its entire library available to free users for the first time ever.

Given the economic climate in India and the low percentage of population that own a credit card, Premium services can now be pre-paid for across a range of different tiers. Users can pay as little as Rs 13 (18 cents) per day or Rs 39 (55 cents) per week instead of opting for the monthly or yearly offering at Rs 119 ($1.67) and Rs 1,189 ($16.68) respectively.

Indian users of Spotify will be treated to exclusive features, including a fine-tuned algorithm that suggests music in multiple languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu. As usual, users will be able to keep track of what music is trending in larger neighbouring cities and access bespoke playlists that include Bollywood Butter and Punjabi101.

“As Spotify grows, our goal is to bring millions of artists and billions of fans together from every country and background,” said founder and CEO, Daniel Ek. “India has an incredibly rich music culture, and to best serve this market, we’re launching a custom-built experience. Not only will Spotify bring Indian artists to the world, we will also bring the world’s music to fans across India. We have been working towards this goal for quite some time, and I am thrilled with today’s launch.

KitGuru Says: Considering Spotify has yet to debut in a number of countries, it seems unfair for Warner Music Group to pressure for a worldwide license. Still, hopefully the remainder of the case is solved amicably.

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