Spotify has been in business for 10 years, it’s worth billions and its global footprint is growing. Just why the streaming giant hasn’t taken the plunge into India, a country with a surging population of 1.3 billion second only to China, is a mystery the streaming giant’s team hasn’t managed to crack. Not yet.
Spotify’s recently rolled out into 13 new markets in the Middle East and North Africa, bringing its total network to 78 markets.
The company has touted its arrival in India for some time, and in March, just ahead of its public listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the company revealed it had opened an office in Mumbai and recruited 300 staff.
Its long-overdue arrival should come in 2019, and as early as six months from now, reports Variety, which has learned that a launch in India will bring with it an extended free trial period.
So why the wait? Content. Or more accurately, a lack of it.
Universal, Sony and Warner Music have had Spotify over a barrel in what appears to be a retaliatory move for the tech company’s move to license acts directly, bypassing the record companies.
The company’s CEO Daniel Ek brushed off the impasse during an earnings call in July, remarking that licensing stalemates are “commonplace in this industry and nothing related to our overall strategy,” according to the India Times. And, earlier this week, Variety declared a licensing pathway “has been cleared” by the major music companies.
Not so fast. Music Business Worldwide editor Tim Ingram has done some digging and found the majors haven’t struck license deals for Spotify’s launch there, but talks are “ongoing,” revealed a U.S.-based source at one of the majors.
Another remarked, “we’re not at the finish line yet. There was a lot of friction before, but it’s calming down now.”
Spotify won’t have the market to itself. Amazon quietly launched its Prime Music service in India earlier this year. Apple Music, with a licensed catalogue focused on international music, is active there and domestic apps such as Gaana, Saavn, Wynk (operated by India’s largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel) and Hungama are among the biggest players.
The digital tipping point occurred relatively early in India and music fans are shifting to a consumption model. Its recorded music market is ranked inside the top 20, according to the IFPI, and was worth $130.7 million last year.