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Spotify Plans to Leave Uruguay Over Change to Copyright Laws

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After Uruguay’s parliament passed a bill that changes the country’s copyright laws, Spotify issued a statement on Monday (Nov. 20) saying that it “will unfortunately begin to phase out its service in Uruguay effective January 1, 2024, and fully cease service by February.”

The Uruguayan bill asks for “equitable remuneration” for artists. However, it did not say whether those additional royalties would come from a streaming service like Spotify or from the money that Spotify already pays out to rightsholders. 

The Uruguayan Society of Performers (SUDEI) had pushed for the changes. “It’s not that we are against the platforms,” Gabriela Pintos, a spokesperson for SUDEI, told El Observador earlier this year. “We are not at all, but we want it to be distributed fairly.” She added that “performers are the most vulnerable part of the industry.”

Spotify took issue with the lack of “clarity” in the language of the new bill. “Spotify already pays nearly 70% of every dollar it generates from music to the record labels and publishers that own the rights for music, and represent and pay artists and songwriters,” a spokesperson for the streaming service said in a statement. “Any additional payments would make our business untenable.” 

The spokesperson went on, “we want to continue giving artists the opportunity to connect with listeners, and Uruguayan fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by their music. Changes that could force Spotify to pay twice for the same music would make our business of connecting artists and fans unsustainable, and regrettably leaves us no choice but to stop being available in Uruguay.”

Uruguay’s music market generated revenues of $13.2 million in 2022, according to the IFPI, an increase of more than 20% over the previous year. Streaming accounted for nearly 65% of that revenue.

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