Spotify, Warner Music Sign Global Deal, Ending Dispute in IndiaVariety — Jem Aswad
UPDATED: Spotify and Warner Music announced early Tuesday morning that they have signed a global deal that ends the unusually bitter and public licensing dispute that flared up last year. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. Reps did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment on that matter.
“Spotify and Warner Chappell have signed a multi-territory licensing agreement,” the statement reads. “This agreement includes India, and therefore the parties have jointly asked the court to dismiss the pending litigation between the parties, which it has.” The dispute was centered on music publishing and did not affect Warner’s recorded-music operation.
After reaching deals with the two other major labels, Universal and Sony, Spotify launched in India last February even though it had not concluded a global agreement with Warner, choosing to rely on statutory licenses to use music from the catalog. Warner, citing the low rates the streaming giant would have been paying in the country, drew a line in the sand, and a standoff ensued that saw reps for the two companies throwing uncharacteristically angry terms at each other. Spotify’s prices in the country are far below what the company is charging consumers elsewhere. At the time of launch, its premium service was free for 30 days and then will be 119 rupees (around $1.67) per month.
In response, Warner filed for an injunction; Spotify then said the injunction was denied by a local court, with Warner contending that this was untrue. The court reportedly asked Spotify to maintain records on the use of any of Warner’s repertoire, which both sides celebrated as a legal victory. More legal wrangling and strong statements ensued, with Warner Music CEO Steve Cooper saying the company would continue to “push back against the devaluation of our artists’ and songwriters’ music” while Spotify’s outgoing CFO Barry McCarthy said in April, “We’re having a food fight with Warner. I can’t comment on the legal aspects of it… It’s not really about India; it’s about leverage and renegotiation of the global agreement.”
Now, the two sides say they have come to terms, in a pair of brief, nearly identical statements issued simultaneously at 4 a.m. ET Tuesday.
A Warner spokesperson said, “We’re happy with this outcome. This new deal appropriately values our songwriters’ music and expands our licensed partnership with Spotify to include India, while a Spotify rep said, “In less than a year, millions of Indian listeners have joined Spotify, listening to their favorite artists and songwriters from across the globe. 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.”