Art is based in personal expression. As artists or content creators, our works are always infused with a little bit of ourselves. In the case of musicians, they use rhythm, tone and lyrics to convey a message. Look no further than the recent example of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”. This isn’t the article to delve into the symbolism of the video, but it’s clear that there is a message being conveyed through the music. In art, we like to believe we have the right to free speech.
While this is true, some people misconstrue this as a pass to produce projects that are racist, sexist or make light of things like religion. Spotify recently announced their new policy on Hate Content and Hateful Conduct, and they are intent on cracking down. The new policy states that when Spotify is alerted to content that violates the terms, they have full permission to remove that content or refrain from promoting it or including it in playlists.
Spotify is making it clear, that every service they provide, from content creation to distributing and promoting projects, reflects the values the company holds at its core. Now, we’ve all become painfully aware that things are a little touchier than they used to be. I subscribe to the idea that offense is taken and not given, and the new policy states that what is offensive to some, may not offend others. It outlines that they will address the entire context when determining if a song is offensive so that a song isn’t wrongfully taken down.
To help determine if content can be deemed hateful, Spotify partnered with a number of rights advocacy groups and have created an internal content monitoring tool on the app called, Spotify AudioWatch. While some content may not be considered hateful, Spotify is keeping an eye out for artists or creators who have personally demonstrated hateful behaviour. As much as they want to support artists, they make it clear that their choices still must reflect their company values. Spotify isn’t saying that they will necessarily censor the work, but if there is especially hateful content, it can drastically affect how they will work with or support that particular artist in the future.
So, make music. Make lots of music! Just don’t be a wiener about it because Spotify is now on the lookout. If you want to learn more about the policy, click here.
BONUS 1: Does this band go too far? Maybe. (From Alan Cross)
Spotify and all the other streaming music services have a right to refuse content on their platform. Some experts, though, say that this particular policy goes too far. From Variety:
It is probably safe to say that Spotify did not get the reaction it expected on Thursday when the company announced a new policy against “hate content” and “hateful conduct” regarding the artists it chooses to promote — and then announced, via a simultaneously published interview, that the first artist to be targeted by this policy will be R. Kelly (and, hours later, rapper XXXTentacion). The streaming giant may have expected to be hailed for its woke-ness and its solidarity with #MeToo, which called Spotify out — along with RCA Records, Ticketmaster, Apple Music and a North Carolina venue, all of which promote or host the artist’s work — last week when it joined the #MuteRKelly movement.
After all, who could argue with a policy that prohibits “hate content” — defined as content that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability” (which would seemingly rule out several presidential campaign speeches) — or declining to promote artists who engage in “hateful conduct” — “something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence)”?
BONUS 2: Apple Music and Pandora have joined the fray over R Kelly. Sort of. (From Alan Cross)
The fallout spread. From Rolling Stone:
Spotify caused a mighty stir yesterday when it announced that, under a new public policy against “hate content and hateful conduct,” it would no longer feature R. Kelly on its playlists. The following day, Apple Music and Pandora announced they will also stop promoting the R&B singer, who is facing multiple sexual misconduct and assault allegations.
Sources told Pitchfork and The Blastthat Apple Music had quietly pulled R. Kelly from featured playlists before Spotify’s announcement and that Pandora does not currently promote the singer’s music. R. Kelly’s music is still available on both streaming platforms – and Spotify’s – but users have to search for it specifically, rather than coming across it on company-curated playlists.
BONUS 3: What other artists should be banned? (From Alan Cross)
If R Kelly, Chris Brown and XXXTencion are verboten, then who’s next? From the NY Daily News:
R. Kelly is the first major artist that Spotify has publicly said it would no longer promote — but he shouldn’t be the last.
The streaming service announced Thursday that all songs by the scandal-plagued Kelly have been removed from the site’s recommendations algorithm and won’t appear on Spotify-owned playlists because he violates the company’s hate content and hateful conduct policy. A source confirmed that rapper XXXTentacion has been given the same treatment.
Here are more artists whom Spotify could stop promoting as well.