Spotify has been positioning itself to roll out in India for many months, but its plans have hit a big hurdle. Warner Music Group has sued the streaming service, filing an injunction against it playing music by its songwriters in India. According to the major label, Spotify “abruptly changed course” in licensing negotiations and claimed that it could offer compositions from Warner/Chappell Music under an Indian rule for radio stations. “We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this,” Warner said in a statement.
Spotify had been targeting an Indian arrival in February or March following earlier delays. Warner’s lawsuit could create a new delay to those plans if the company can’t finalize negotiations for rights and compensation to the label’s satisfaction.
Spotify has been working toward licensing deals for an India launch for months. India is a market of interest for many music companies, as mobile access and smartphones secure larger reach in the local population. Digital music was responsible for more than 91% of India’s recorded music revenue in 2017, according to IFPI. A 2018 Nielsen report found that Indian audiences are currently favoring music by streaming video, followed by audio streaming services.