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Censorship law leads Spotify to fully suspend service in Russia


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Spotify has now fully suspended its service in Russia, having paused its premium tier there earlier this month in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The streaming service had been keen to keep operating in Russia, in what it said was an effort to “allow for the global flow of information” to listeners there.

Now that policy has changed, in response to the law recently introduced in Russia punishing ‘fake’ news about military operations with up to 15-year jail sentences. Even though Spotify closed its office in Russia early this month, its concerns about the new law have now led to the full suspension of its service there.

“Spotify has continued to believe that it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information in the region,” said the company in a statement.

“Unfortunately, recently enacted legislation further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalising certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify’s employees and possibly even our listeners at risk. After carefully considering our options and the current circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision to fully suspend our service in Russia.”

Spotify had already said that it expected to lose around 1.5 million subscribers from the suspension of its premium tier in Russia. It has not said how many free listeners it has in the country. The news follows a number of labels and distributors closing offices and suspending business operations in Russia.

Russia had been a music market on the rise before the invasion of Ukraine, as our recent country profile explained. The IFPI ranked it as the 13th biggest recorded music market in 2021, up from 16th the previous year, thanks to 58.2% growth in revenues. However, now global streaming services are pulling out of the market, while the flow of new international music releases is also being cut off for Russian DSPs.


Written by: Stuart Dredge