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After Saregama and Warner, Spotify inks deal with Shemaroo

Shemaroo Entertainment

Shemaroo announced yesterday that the media company had inked a music deal with Spotify. The deal will allow Spotify to stream over 25,000 songs from Shemaroo’s catalogue, which is mostly composed of classic Hindi music. The deal comes shortly after Spotify signed similar deals with Warner and Saregama, after much wrangling with both labels over the last year. It is unclear if Shemaroo’s deal is global; we have reached out to the company for clarification.

Spotify hasn’t revealed its user base in India. An estimate by SimilarWeb pegs the number of monthly active users — not all of whom are subscribers — at 10 million. For comparison, Times Internet’s Gaana, which got a staggering $115 million infusion in 2018, said in December 2019 that it now has 150 million monthly active users. JioSaavn says it has 100 million MAUs, and its CEO said that number would double by 2021.

A year of legal wrangling

When Spotify was launched early last year, it was already locked in a court battle with Warner Chappell, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Spotify had taken advantage of a quirk of Indian copyright law — Section 31D of the Copyright Act — to invoke statutory license, with which it was able to assert rights to stream Warner Chappell songs by simply notifying the government and depositing a fixed licensing fee it did not need to negotiate; this provision was introduced in 2012 to help radio stations and the like so that they wouldn’t all be locked in negotiations to broadcast music.

That kind of use took a beating when Airtel’s Wynk tried the same thing with Tips Industries, another music label. After Tips sued Wynk, the Bombay High Court ruled that Section 31D cannot be invoked by streaming services, which put Spotify in a tough spot, since their suit with Warner Chappell was pending in the same court.

Spotify signed a deal with Warner Chappell in January 2020, ending the lawsuit. But Warner Chappell was, after all, just a subsidiary, and WMG still needed to sign a broader deal for more label-wide content, which is what happened this month.

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Separately, the company had to remove songs by Saregama last year, after the company sued the streaming company in the Delhi High Court.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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