Zee Music Company, one of India’s leading music labels, had its entire catalog removed from Spotify in early March 2023. Both companies were involved in a licensing dispute that lasted for several months.
Zee Music Company, owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, offers a wide range of music, including Bollywood songs and independent tracks. For several years, the label licensed its content to Spotify, but the agreement was set to expire in late 2022, and negotiations broke down.
Spotify and Zee Music Company had a major disagreement over the royalty rate that the label was seeking. Due to the growing popularity of its catalog among Spotify’s Indian users, Zee Music Company had asked for a higher rate than Spotify was willing to pay.
Meanwhile, Spotify argued that Zee Music Company’s demands were unreasonable and that it already paid a fair price for the music. Ultimately, no compromise could be reached, and the licensing agreement expired in December 2022.
Spotify continued to stream Zee Music Company’s music after the agreement expired, claiming that Indian copyright law permitted it. As a result, Zee Music Company filed a legal notice against Spotify, demanding that the music be removed.
Spotify complied with the request by removing Zee Music Company’s entire catalog in early March 2023. Spotify’s users in India, who are fans of Zee Music Company, have been disappointed by the move.
Despite its openness to further negotiations with Spotify, a Zee Music Company spokesperson said the label would not compromise on its demands for fair compensation for its artists and music.
According to Spotify, it will continue to provide a wide range of music to Indian consumers as well as international ones. In addition to its partnerships with T-Series and Sony Music India, the company regularly adds new content to its platform.
A Spotify spokesperson said,
“Spotify and Zee Music have been unable to reach a licensing agreement. 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.”
In negotiating licensing agreements with music labels, streaming services face challenges such as those between Zee Music Company and Spotify.
There is no clarity on when the Spotify-Zee Music Company dispute will be resolved, and when Zee Music Company’s music will become available again on the platform. As the situation develops, Indian music fans will have to wait and see if a resolution can be reached that is satisfactory to all parties.