They’ve got you right over a barrel! Threaten Spotify with having to pay artists more money, and they’ll just leave your country – as Uruguay are about to find out…

History is littered with examples of people and institutions being corrupted by power. Quite simply, if you hand over all the power to someone, they’re probably going to be tempted to abuse it – and chances are that, more often than not, they will.

The music industry couldn’t be a better example of this if it tried. For decades, the major labels held almost all of the power – and they abused that power to maximise further their grip on the market. Whilst they benefitted by making ever more money, artists lost out in shoddy deals where master recording rights were signed over to a faceless corporation forever.

Then the major labels came across the internet – and rather than working with Napster to create a legal version of their service, they tried to bully and legislate it out of existence. Hence why it was ultimately left to Apple – a tech company, not a music one – to start iTunes back in 2003.

But their troubles weren’t over – and when Spotify came along with their offering. The majors jumped on board once again, and allowed the streaming company to dictate matters to them. As bad as the majors were, they were at least motivated by music – something which can’t be said of technology companies.

So what happens if you’re not happy with the way Spotify does business, and want them to pay more money to your artists? We now know the answer to this question – just take a look at what’s happening over in Uruguay right now.

A few weeks ago, the Uruguayan Parliament voted to approve a new bill with amendment calling for “equitable remuneration” for artists. The new law also insists that social networks and other online outlets are treated as “formats for which, if a song is reproduced, the performer is entitled to financial remuneration.”.

In other words, the likes of Instagram would have to pay whenever someone’s song is used – something which they already do. And what has Spotify’s response been to all of this? Has the company – whose CEO is worth at least $3billion – agreed to pay more?

Er, no – and not only that, but they’ve confirmed they’ll now be closing down their operations in the country from early next year. In a statement sent to Music Business Worldwide, they also attempted to personally take credit for streaming’s 20% growth within Uruguay in 2022.

How they come to this conclusion is quite the mystery – but one thing certainly isn’t. If Spotify doesn’t want to do something that you want them to do, they can just decide to up sticks and abandon the market altogether…

Ears To The House Team

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