Image credit: LOGAN WEAVER

Sadly for music lovers in Uruguay, Spotify are departing the country over “untenable” copyright laws.

Starting January 1st 2024, Spotify will begin phasing out their service in Uruguay. The streamer cites new copyright laws, which they feel weren’t clarified in enough detail for them to remain.

The Rendición de Cuentas bill was passed in October 2023 and requested better payment for artists. However, they didn’t clarify whose responsibility it was to renumerate artists more. There was ambiguity over whether Spotify were expected to pay more overall, or if existing payouts to rightsholders should be readjusted in favour of artists.

Without being in a position to pay out a larger overall sum, Spotify requested clarity. They wrote: “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.”

They added: “Any additional payments would make our business untenable.” Unfortunately, Spotify didn’t receive the answers they needed to comfortably remain in the territory. They have announced that their service will fully cease to operate in Uruguay as of February 2024.

They wrote that they are the “largest revenue driver” in Uruguay, “having contributed more than $40b to date”. Continuing: “Because of streaming, the music industry in Uruguay has grown 20% in 2022 alone.”

It’s quite a significant statement that shows how valuable a loss to the economy any other departures would be. As of yet, we haven’t heard of any other music services announcing their departure from the country. As other countries around the world have a similar discussion on equitable renumeration, we are likely to see some deeper discussions between streamers and legislators to prevent the same happening elsewhere.

Spotify added: “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.”

Streaming made up 65% of the generated music market revenues for Uruguay in 2022, according to the IFPI.