Warner Music Sues Spotify Ahead of Expected India Launch

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The label, which is home to Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran, has sued the streaming service in India which "abruptly changed course" by claiming that a rule applicable to broadcasters also applies to Spotify.

Spotify's upcoming India launch has hit a roadblock over its licensing negotiations with Warner Music Group.

The music label, home to such artists as Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and Led Zeppelin, has filed an injunction in India against the streaming service.

Bloomberg quoted Warner Music as saying Monday that Spotify "abruptly changed course" in the negotiations by saying that a rule applicable to broadcasters applies to Spotify as well.

While Spotify has struck a licensing agreement with leading Indian label T-Series, which offers over 160,000 songs ranging from Bollywood soundtracks to other musical genres to bolster its local offerings, the service is still to secure a license from Warner. Bloomberg reported that Spotify was planning to use an Indian rule that governs radio stations to offer songs from Warner’s publishing division. It quoted Warner as saying: "We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this."

According to Spotify, more than 4 million users globally regularly listen to Indian music content on the service. Last June, it rolled out an Indian music hub, Desi, which houses numerous playlists covering Bollywood, Punjabi language bhangra classics, sitar music and hip-hop, among other genres. The flagship Desi Hits playlist has over 217,000 followers.

While Spotify is still to confirm its India launch date, the streamer will face plenty of competitors. These include JioSaavn (which was valued at $1 billion after it was created following the official merger of leading Indian services Saavn and JioMusic), Google Play Music, Gaana, Amazon Prime, Wynk and Apple Music, though YouTube remains the most popular service.