Spotify Renews Global Licensing Deal With Warner Music

Olly Curtis/Future/Shutterstock

At the stroke of 8 a.m. ET, Spotify and Warner Music announced that they have renewed their global licensing deal. The two companies are believed to have been out of contract for around nine months, although that is not an uncommon situation for streaming services and music companies.

“Spotify and Warner Music Group are pleased to announce a renewed global licensing partnership,” the brief joint announcement reads. “This expanded deal covers countries where Spotify is available today, as well as additional markets. The two companies look forward to collaborating on impactful global initiatives for Warner artists and songwriters, and working together to grow the music industry over the long term.”

Reps for both companies declined further comment.

Considering the fact that the companies announced a vaguely defined “multi-territory” agreement just two months ago, it’s safe to assume that this agreement covers territories that were not covered by that deal, as well as future territories.

Also, a large component of that deal involved the two companies finally coming to terms over India, where their music-publishing dispute broke into the open in an unusually public and contentious fashion. Warner, citing the low rates the streaming giant would have been paying in the country, drew a line in the sand, and a standoff ensued that saw reps for the two companies throwing uncharacteristically angry terms at each other. Spotify’s prices in the country are far below what the company is charging consumers elsewhere. At the time of launch, its premium service was free for 30 days and then would be 119 rupees (around $1.67) per month.

Spotify ended up launching in that country in early 2019 without securing a deal with Warner, which has a small but significant presence in the territory’s music market. Spotify’s CFO at the time, Barry McCarthy, said in April 2019, “We’re having a food fight with Warner. I can’t comment on the legal aspects of it… It’s not really about India; it’s about leverage and renegotiation of the global agreement.”

The two companies last announced a global deal in August of 2017, and those agreements usually have a two or three-year term. On that basis, it seems Spotify and Warner could have been out of contract for around nine months. However, label and publishing agreements with streaming services often lapse without a new agreement and continue under the old terms and payments are retroactively updated when a new deal is reached.

Of the four major music groups — Sony, Universal, Warner and the indie collective Merlin — today’s announcement leaves Universal as the only one out of contract with Spotify, sources say.