Bollywood fans are taking to social media to ask what happened to their favorite Bollywood playlists on Spotify? The answer is a licensing dispute.
Hundreds of songs from some of India’s biggest blockbusters have been pulled from Spotify. That’s because Spotify says it was not able to reach a licensing agreement with the owners of the tracks. Users opened their favorite playlists only to discover soundtracks like Malhari from Bairao Mastani or Kala Chashma from Baar Baar Dekho are now missing.
“I’m so upset; this is insane,” Vishma Rai, a Bollywood fan, told BBC about the removal. “It’s so bad that Kalank songs are gone. One of my favorites was the title track and it’s just so upsetting. I don’t know what I’m gonna listen to now when I want to feel loved up.”
Spotify was forced to remove the entire Zee Music catalog from its service after the company didn’t renew its licensing agreement. Zee Music also did not renew its licensing agreement with the music app Gaana and cut ties with that service in 2022. A few months later, Gaana became a subscription-only service.
“Spotify and Zee Music have been unable to reach a licensing agreement,” a spokesperson said. “Throughout these negotiations, Spotify has tried to find creative ways to strike a deal with Zee Music and will continue our good faith negotiations in hopes of finding a mutually agreeable solution soon.” Licensing agreements are always in flux, but Zee Music encompasses a large part of the sound of Bollywood music for India.
“Another reminder that while streaming can be great and has an important role, it should never be regarded as a replacement for physical collections,” tweeted one Bollywood fan after the removal. Zee Music has 93.6 million subscribers on YouTube and is the second most-subscribed channel behind T-Series, with 239 million subscribers.