Amidst IP Litigation Suit, Spotify’s Launch in India Reportedly Delayed Until February or March

So, when will Spotify launch in India?

Spotify now faces a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Filed at the US District Court of Delaware, Excalibur, an IP licensing company, claims the streaming music giant infringes on its ‘digital fingerprint’ software.  Yahoo originally owned the 2,648 patents which it then transferred to the licensing company in 2016.

70% of Excalibur’s assets include data processing.  It also has patents for e-commerce and network messaging tools.

In the lawsuit, the company only asserted that Spotify infringed on four patents.

Yet, the streaming music giant reportedly has bigger fish to fry overseas.  Especially with its missed launch in India.

So, what happened to India?

For nearly a year, Spotify has planned to roll out its music service in India.  It recently launched in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The streaming music giant confirmed it had opened an office in Mumbai, hiring around 300 people last March.

The service would’ve launched on January 31st.  The company had reportedly prepared a massive launch party to celebrate on the same day.  An eagle-eyed user had also spotted the company’s terms of service and conditions of use would go live on January 31st, 2019.

Upon rolling out in India, Spotify faces strong competition against other streaming music services with Western catalogs.

Gaana boasts 75 million users in the region and owns 50% of the Indian music market.  The streaming music service also recently secured $115 million in funding from Tencent and Times Internet.

In a $1 billion+ deal, Saavn merged with JioMusic last June.  It also most recently unveiled its own combined streaming music service – JioSaavn.  The unified streaming music service has a catalog of 45 million songs, along with over 900+ label partnerships.  This includes Sony, Universal, and Warner Music.

Other local players include Google Play, Apple Music, Amazon, Hungama, and Airtel Wynk.

To quickly establish a foothold in India, the streaming music giant plans to unveil an extended free trial period.  According to a local respected journalist, its subscription service will cost Rs 140, or $1.96 a month.

So, why did Spotify miss its highly anticipated and rumored launch date?

Speaking with Variety, multiple sources said the company has yet to lock down regional deals with the big three record labels – Sony, Universal, and Warner.  The company’s launch also ‘hinges on additional deals’ not yet finalized.

Last year, Spotify worked to lock down deals with major Indian rightsholders.  This included a recent deal with T-Series, a massive record and film company.  T-Series has over 160,000 songs in several local languages in its catalog.  The company also arguably has the most-viewed channel on YouTube in the world.  More than 80 million subscribers have reportedly viewed the company’s original videos over 58 billion times.

Main regional music in the country includes songs in Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Bengali.

According to another source, India’s delay is also due to the royalty payments Spotify will reportedly pay.  Royalties paid out from plays in India will be “dramatically lower” than what other local music services pay.

In addition, Spotify faces a slow conversion rate, as it aims to make traditionally non-paying music listeners into subscribers.

Despite owning 50% of the local music market and over 70 million monthly active users, Gaana, India’s largest music service, only has subscribers in the single digits.

So, when will Spotify launch?  Reportedly in February or March as the company aims to overcome these massive hurdles.

You can view the Excalibur IP lawsuit below.


Featured image by Pogaface (CC by 3.0).