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Spotify Partners with the Southern Poverty Law Center to Purge 'Hate Content' from Its Music

A well-intentioned new policy threatens the violent, angry music we know and love.

Robert Schlesinger/picture alliance / Robert Schles/NewscomRobert Schlesinger/picture alliance / Robert Schles/NewscomFollowing in the steps of Facebook and YouTube, Spotify is trying to scrub its platform of controversial content. The streaming music service has released a new "hate content and hateful conduct" policy, outlining how it intends to identify and deal with music that violates the company's core principles of "openness, diversity, tolerance and respect."

According to the policy, any tracks or artists identified as "hate content"—defined as music that "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"—will be either removed from Spotify altogether or suppressed in promotions and stripped out of any platform-generated playlists.

The "hateful conduct" part of the policy will take aim at musicians' off-the-clock behavior. "When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful," the company explains, that will affect the company's dealings with them. R. Kelly, who has been accused of sexually abusing underage girls, appears to be the first casualty of this policy: The singer's music will still stream at Spotify but will no longer be promoted there.

Several advocacy groups will help Spotify identify "hate content." Among them: the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and GLAAD.

Fighting bigotry is a fine goal, and I am sure Spotify's intentions are pure. It also goes without saying that a private company can moderate content however it wants.

That said, the this "hate content" policy is an ambiguous mess doomed to failure. Music, including a lot of incredibly popular music, is full of hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise appalling messages. Attempting to sort the truly objectionable from the merely edgy or dated will only lend itself to arbitrary enforcement.

Take "Gangsta Gangsta," from NWA's 1988 album Straight Outta Compton. The rap has racked up an impressive 31 million streams on Spotify, dazzling listeners with lyrics like "dumb-ass hooker ain't nothing but a dyke" and "life ain't nothing but bitches and money":

Or take Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," which reached the top spot on the Billboard charts back in 1985 and now has been streamed some 88 million times on Spotify. This popular rock song contains such gems as "See the little faggot with the earring and the make-up/Yeah buddy, that's his own hair/ That little faggot got his own jet airplane/That little faggot he's a millionaire":

Savvy listeners can certainly muster defenses of these tracks. "Money for Nothing," for example, was based on a conversation that Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler overheard in a store; it would be a mistake to declare the singer homophobic just because a character in his song is. But the language could still offend people. How exactly Spotify should adjudicate that is anyone's guess.

At any rate, both songs peddle in homophobic and misogynistic slurs. Do they rise to level of "hate content," though? One might argue that these songs aren't "principally" promoting or inciting hate, as required by Spotify's policy. But that again is a fuzzy line. Is misogyny the principle message of "Gangsta, Gangsta" or just an ancillary theme?

Then there are questions about songs that do explicitly promote hate and violence are going to be treated. We live in a time, after all, when some states are adding the police to the protected classes in their hate crimes laws. So consider another popular NWA track, "Fuck tha Police." It's undeniably hateful. And it includes explicit calls for violence against law enforcement, with lines like "Beat a police out of shape/And when I'm finished, bring the yellow tape":

At a time when some states are adding the police to the protected classes in their hate crimes laws, you can see where this is going. Were Spotify to employ its "hate content" criteria neutrally across its entire platform, it would almost certainly have to suppress this song. Remember, the new policy bars incitement against groups marked by a potentially limitless set of characteristics, not just the ones explicitly listed.

Yet NWA's invocation of violence was itself a reaction to police racism and violence. Hatred, anger, and violent fantasies are real, predictable, even common reactions to injustice. Part of what makes songs like "Fuck tha Police" so powerful and enduring is that they capture that hate and turn it into popular art that speaks to an audience. Will they have to go nevertheless?

Spotify's new policy acknowledges this dilemma by saying that "cultural standards and sensitivities vary widely" and that "there will always be content that is acceptable in some circumstances, but is offensive in others, and we will always look at the entire context."

OK, good. But that raises more questions than it answers.

What context might make violent or hateful lyrics safe for Spotify? Would they have to be a response to injustice, as with "Fuck tha Police"? A lot of people like being titillated by dark, violent, and grotesque images. This is particularly true of music, where whole genres of music exist to horrify their audiences with obscenely violent lyrics and themes. Try to apply Spotify's standards to large swaths of rap, punk, and metal without barring them entirely will become an exercise in absurdity.

Take death metal superstars Cannibal Corpse's song "Hammer Smashed Face" (5 million listens on Spotify):

The lyrics here include "I smash your fucking head in, until brains seep in through the cracks." That might survive the cut, since they refer to a neutral "you" rather than a "you" whose race, gender, sexual orientation, or veteran's status has been specifically stated. The band might run into more problems for its song "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's Cunt" (212,000 listens), since—as the name suggests—it includes some graphic descriptions of violence against women. But is smashing someone's head in with a hammer less hateful than pulling her innards through her vagina? I guess Spotify will have to decide.

The company's policy becomes even more troublesome when one considers that the Southern Poverty Law Center will help to guide and enforce it. Given that group's history of using exceptionally broad definitions of "hate" and "hate groups," one can be forgiven for being pessimistic about their ability to vet musical content with a light and sensitive touch. (I reached out both Spotify and the Southern Poverty Law Center to ask how this identification of hate content will work in practice but did not receive a reply.)

Inevitably, some songs will cross lines of acceptable expression. Part of musical exploration is finding where that line is for yourself. But now Spotify plans to put itself in the role of defining where that line has to be, undercutting its own value as a library for listeners to explore.

Photo Credit: Robert Schlesinger/picture alliance / Robert Schles/Newscom

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Well, My first two thoughts were Geto Boys and Burzum are gone.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Christian has excellent taste.

  • Juice||

    I guess we'll have to do something else against the machine now.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Scowl Furtively When the Machine Isn't Looking

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Work For The Machine While Saying "Fuck" So Kids Think You're Tough Against The Machine

  • Cy||

    *checks for the man*
    *slight half fist pump*

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    All they will do is open a gaping hole for competitors. They are announcing to everybody that they are no longer cool hip or interesting, that all the interesting stuff is somewhere else, and if that somewhere else doesn't exist yet, it soon will.

  • Ron||

    However if New York has its way banks won't make loans to anyone that has a different political view than those in power. Kind of hard to make a start up when government threatens those who would be able to give money for a start up.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    They will just enhance the slipperiness of the slope. People have started some amazing companies with little help from state-approved institutions. And the greater that opportunity, the greater the incentive to tell the state to fuck off.

  • Ron||

    I hope so but I'm not so sure that will stay the case Between the suit for NN and government over bearance on content and who banks may loan its getting tighter

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Every fence has two sides. The Disney fence around copyright means that their previous copycat movies could no longer be done; they have fenced themselves in, trading future opportunities for present day stasis. The smaller the fence, the more there is outside it.

  • damikesc||

    However if New York has its way banks won't make loans to anyone that has a different political view than those in power.

    NY is free to do that.

    FDIC is free to stop covering NY banks and the Reserve is free to cut NY banks off from funds if needed.

  • BYODB||

    Remember how helpful the FDIC was during the financial meltdown? Yeah, me neither.

    FDIC Insurance is a joke.

  • Cy||

    The vast majority of insurances are jokes. It's been a government backed and enforced perpetual scam for over a 100 years. They're like Casinos, they're not in the business of losing money.

  • ||

    Two word. Angel investors.

    Fuck the banks. They barely lend money anyway without you putting up your soul and you kids. Plus my orphans.

  • Cy||

    They lend tons of money! To a very select few.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The irony is that McCarthyism would keep all this bullshit in check.

  • I can't even||

    I was just thinking I'm glad I use Pandora. I'll drop them in a second if they make a similar announcement.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Yeah, same here. But then again KMFDM is probably the most subversive thing I listen to so I'm not sure I'd noticed if they started dropping artists.

  • Rhywun||

    My guess is that this is really about protecting themselves from lawsuits down the road, which means every streaming service will eventually do this.

    I always said streaming is for suckers and this is just one more reason.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    There is no chance of them getting sued for hosting audio content. We have freedom of speech in America. This has nothing to do with lawsuits, it's just virtue signaling.

    If anything, this opens them up to more lawsuits, because they will inevitably enforce this "policy" in a way that is completely biased.

  • JesseAz||

    Umm... Dont look at Pandora press releases... You may be out of music.

  • Flinch||

    The first hole is under their feet: Merlin dumped 100% of shares held today, and that's good. Spotify going narrowband with a weak SJW template [plus psychotic influence from SPLC] is the beginning of the end.

  • shawn_dude||

    I think you overestimate how "interesting" the stuffy they'll exclude is considered by today's youth. People aren't going to feel bummed that they can't listen to white power anthems and homophobic reggae tunes. The vast majority of kids these days are turned off by "hate" as evidenced by studies on what they consider acceptable restrictions on speech.

    Love it or hate it, that's the current state of things. Sure, someone will pop up with an alt-right alternative music site like they did with Gab. (It is called "Gab", right? It's hard to remember.)

  • Ken Hagler||

    Considering who they're working with, Spotify is far more likely to remove country music than rap.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Especially anything with a patriotic theme.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Apparently no grownups use Spotify. Grownups can sort through music on their own, without the "help" of some fussbudget censor.

  • AlmightyJB||

    OT: Who needs a warrant.

  • lafe.long||

    Disappointed that this wasn't a link to Cherry Pie.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjyZKfdwlng

  • AlmightyJB||

    The SPLC is racist and sexist.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    OMG — Cannibal Corpse is a real band??? I thought they were a joke made up for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective!

    Their songs titles are highly problematic if Wikipedia is any indication:
    Meat Hook Sodomy
    Addicted to Vaginal Skin
    Fucked with a Knife
    Stripped, Raped and Strangled
    She Was Asking for It

    This is what we mean when we talk about Rape Culture. Absolutely disgusting, misogynistic stuff. Good for Spotify if they want to discourage people from listening to this filth.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    They should really ban Fermented Offal Discharge by Necrophagist. It's not sexist, but that's a gross phrase.

    Also, I was just listening to Anal Cunt, and I fear they might be unpersoned.

  • Flinch||

    Dang. Guess they will ban the Butthole Surfers too, authors of what actually is our national anthem: Booze, Tobacco, Dope, Pussy, Cars.
    That's unpatriotic, and an outrage. They can go snivel in Brussels and watch subscribership fizzle to less than 100k for all I care.

  • ||

    There's always Dying Fetus if you want an alternative to Cannibal Corpse.

    Or skip the rape culture and go right to Deicide and full-on satanism.

    Ah...the '90's...good times.

  • Juice||

    Damn, finally someone's talking my language.

  • Eidde||

    "Take "Gangsta Gangsta," from NWA's 1988 album Straight Outta Compton."

    For that matter, take "Straight Outta Compton, from NWA's 1988 album Straight Outta Compton."

  • Ron||

    the purge of opposing views in any format has begun in earnest

  • An Innocent Man||

    and I am sure Spotify's intentions are pure.

    I am sure the moon is made of cheese.

  • SJW Libertarian||

    How in fuck's name does she know that their intentions are pure? Yet another SJW liberal recruited by reason.com to corrupt whatever libertarians are left.

  • Flinch||

    Glib banality is the order of the day in a nation that got Oprahfied, then made worse by the SJW juggernaut swamping all things orbiting around Silicon Valley. The crowd spotify chose to lend an ear to confirms there is very little chance their motives are pure, and the author is just one of the tools applauding the emperors new clothes. Pity - the piece was almost reporting until Christian ascribed motives in a vacuum. Guess he never heard of SPLC's offshore banking practices and their millions parked offshore? Imagine... ethical guidance from a tax exempt organization that needs to hide its money offshore. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Radioactive||

    as usual, just about everything...

  • shawn_dude||

    The libertarian response to a private corporation choosing the items it will sell to its customers is...what... outrage then?

    Scarecrow Repair & Chippering nailed it with his comment about this creating competition. This should be met with a shrug and a Google search to find alternative sources if you care. Spotify doesn't owe anyone access to their inventory and doesn't owe anyone the right to dictate their inventory. If the SPLC has convinced them to edit their inventory, that's their business (literally and figuratively.)

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4fUTuiURag

    The Stones 'Cocksucker Blues' might not last long then.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Stick this up yer memory hole.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    That Redbone song is almost as nuts as this Redbone song

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    "A well-intentioned..."

    Unsupported assertion.

  • Idle Hands||

    That's kind of where I am. Otherwise the article is good.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    We should care a little less about intentions anyway. Let's care about the actual value of the action a little more. And this is censorship.

  • shawn_dude||

    It's "censorship" in the exact same way it's censorship when my local grocery store stop stocking my favorite brand of potato chips. Spotify is a business and they get to decide what is in their inventory and policies that dictate those choices.

    The actual *impact* of this action is.... zero. If NWA is no longer stocked, go find another provider and stop doing business with Spotify.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Tipper Gore called, she wants her agenda back.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Tipper's currently listening to Twisted Sister, writing "Tipper Snyder" on the inside of her Trapper Keeper.

    Seriously, the PMRC was the apex of her existence.

  • Radioactive||

    always thought she had a nice rack...

  • Flinch||

    Thanks for the laugh. Sadly, most don't remember Tippers maniacal anti first amendment leanings of decades past because they weren't here yet. Unicorn Abbatoir's summary is as close to the mark as any - I had forgotten about Trapper Keepers and... so glad to have gotten out of the 80s [with the exception of some fine work by Frank Zappa]. TV was such a wasteland that only Star Trek re-runs and the Twilight Zone prevented putting a brick in the set and be done with it.

  • Idle Hands||

    This is fucking censorship.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    No it isn't.

  • Idle Hands||

    This private company is taking it upon themselves to self-censor music, music that is already on it's platform, that doesn't conform to its political views. What would you define as censorship?

    Censorship- the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

  • Idle Hands||

    They are suppressing music that was/is on their platform from public consumption.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    There are literally a million other places to find the content. They aren't suppressing the content, they just aren't offering it.

  • Idle Hands||

    Which is censorship. and they are suppressing their content see your very own comment below.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    It's not censorship. Especially if they do offer the content but decide not to promote it. Overdefining censorship to mean a company's decision to not offer content is not a good idea.

    If Sony decides to not let Netflix show content they produced, who is being censored?

  • Idle Hands||

    Nobody. If Netflix had a show on it's platform that it came out and Netflix said was hateful and it was purging it from it's platform that would be censorship. If Netflix had a show that it refused to promote as it did for comparable shows for political purposes that would be suppression of content which would also be censorship. None of these two actions are illegal and shouldn't be but they both are examples of censorship imho.

  • shawn_dude||

    I'm with $park¥ leftist poser. This is a corporate inventory question. Period.

    Widening the accusation of "censorship" to include these kinds of things is silly. And it's especially silly on a freaking libertarian blog. Every Christian bookstore censors their content by not selling Pagan and Satanist tomes. Every conservative bookstore censors their content by not selling liberal tomes. etc. Who cares? That's the free market at work. Worry about censorship when it's the government doing the work.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    A well-intentioned new policy threatens the violent, angry music we know and love.

    I'm going to need to see some proof of that.

  • Radioactive||

    pretty sure nothing these shit heels do is well intentioned, I think self serving is a better descriptor.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Welcome to the list!

    BTW, my comments after making Hihn's enemies list disappeared for a few hours before reappearing. May be coincidence, may not be.

  • Just Say'n||

    I'm not on there, because I don't enjoy mocking the mentally ill

  • Citizen X - #6||

    It does get old after a while.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Congratulations! Your parents must be thrilled.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Yeah, I noticed you accused of being a Mary Stack sockpuppet in the assault weapons thread this morning. I guess now we all know how to get on Hihn's enemies list.

  • Just Say'n||

    It was not "well intentioned". It was a stupid idea to begin with and I'm pretty positive that if this was done to silence profane language and the campaign was led by church groups rather than progressives you would have declared the effort to be "well intentioned".

  • Just Say'n||

    *not declared*

  • CLM1227||

    There are spotify users who mock others as censorious for requesting an option for a language filter on Spotify playlists.

  • BYODB||

    If you drew a Venn diagram of things that Progressives and religious types agreed on, there would be a lot of overlap. Primarily because Progressives were originally a faith-based coalition and you can still see it today. We don't sometimes refer to them as the New Victorians for nothing.

  • Eidde||

    Some of Spotify's song choices have caused problems.

    There's no reason for them to endorse lowest-common-denominator popular culture, much less put it on their playlist.

    I only regret that they chose wacky left-wingers to decide which parts of popular culture are problematic. This not only legitimizes the lefty nuts of the SPLC, but will be both over- and underinclusive, playing offensive songs with politically-correct targets while censoring legitimate music which makes lefty panties get bunched up.

  • Just Say'n||

    Turns out Eddie that all social conservatives need to do is rebrand themselves as "progressives" to censor music and people.

  • shawn_dude||

    Social conservatives already censor music and people. They do it via their religious bookstores and other sellers. Hobby Lobby does it. The wacky dude that built the Noa's Arc theme park does it. When's the last time a Christian music company produced music that was pro-gay? K. D. Lang was censored all over the country on music stations because she came out as a lesbian vegetarian.

    And all of these things are examples of private business having the right to choose what they sell. Absolutely nothing wrong with it.

  • Cloudbuster||

    No, Spotify's song selection didn't cause problems. The snowflake who made a stink about it caused problems.

  • Eidde||

    The song in question was using a certain synonym for "African-American" and was discussing the singer's sexual habits and attitudes toward the fair sex, not to mention his views on money.

    Just because the university mishandled the matter doesn't mean any possible complaint about the song is snowflake-y.

  • Eidde||

    And the company had a program which thought that song was perfectly OK to put on a playlist.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Yes, it means the complainant is a Snowflake.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    R. Kelly, who has been accused of sexually abusing underage girls, appears to be the first casualty of this policy: The singer's music will still stream at Spotify but will no longer be promoted there.

    This seems to answer your question. Sounds like all they're going to do is unpromote content they find icky. Kinda like YouTube did with demonetization of content.

  • Just Say'n||

    It's a good thing that history didn't begin until progressives started to pay attention otherwise Dr. Dre would be unpersoned for beating women, Tupac would be unpersoned for a rape accusation, and Ice Cube would be unpersoned for homophobia.

    I remember early 90's gangsta rap. Good thing progressives don't

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I don't really get why people listen to shock rap, but there it is.

  • Just Say'n||

    If you find Snoop Dog, Dre, and Ice Cube to be "shocking" then you got to get out more. You got no love for the West Coast early 90's scene? That's messed up

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I don't find it shocking, but it's the kind of music white people listen to so that others will think they're edgy. I don't listen to it because it's crap.

  • Just Say'n||

    I agree that white people listen to rap sometimes to look 'hip' (or they read Tai Coates articles). But, The Chronic is probably one of the best album of the 90's. No way is that crap.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    NWA and Tupac are not shock rap.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    It is garbage though.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I see.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I see.

  • ||

    What about Ice-T? Or is he okay now because Law & Order?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    No one should be unpersoned. That's not a good way to actually deal with problems. That just makes those in power feel better by allowing them to not think about what is happening and what has happened.

    I do think that Dr. Dre being a vicious woman beater SHOULD attract more attention though. He should not just get a pass.

  • Just Say'n||

    Yeah, some of the things that these rappers did in the early 90's should really receive more scrutiny (Snoop was on trial for murder).

    But, how can you criticize unpersoning, Sarwark? You tried to do that with Tom Woods.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's not unpersoning if he was never human to begin with.

  • Idle Hands||

    I believe this to be censorship.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    It isn't.

  • Idle Hands||

    We just have to agree to disagree. In your opinion, what is the definition of censorship and can a private corporation conduct it?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    The only way a private corporation could possibly censor content is if they were the sole provider of said content and then stopped making the content available to anyone at any time. Making people specifically request the content is not censorship. Providing the content but not paying the content creator is not censorship. Refusing to provide the content while five other companies do provide the content is not censorship.

  • Idle Hands||

    Thanks.

  • Idle Hands||

    I still disagree, but respect your opinion.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Refusing to provide the content while five other companies do provide the content is not censorship."'

    The problem I have with that is that it's saying only the last company to do it is censorship.

    I'm pretty sure censorship is not about the last company doing it.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    The problem I have with that is that it's saying only the last company to do it is censorship.

    Let's say Spotify acquires the full, unconditional rights to everything created by Taylor Swift in perpetuity. Since Spotify is now the sole legal provider of anything created by Taylor Swift forever, if they stopped playing her content they would be censoring her (and we'd all be worse off because of it). Censorship goes hand in hand with intellectual property rights. If you make it impossible to own content that another person produces, you'll make it impossible to censor.

  • soldiermedic76||

    If it means I never have to hear another Taylor Swift song, I guess this can't all be bad.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    "Nazi bookburners weren't censoring anything, because copies of those books still exist somewhere!"

    You are an idiot.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The real issue is whether this is about true censorship. When we allow harassment, discrimination, and other laws equal to First Amendment protections, well, what else can we expect? They can fear two things--litigation/government action or people not using their product as a result of the offensive speech. Nobody rationally can fear the latter, with our collective attention span reaching Planck time, so it must be the former.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I think the question is, did they take an active step to suppress it? If all they are doing is not advertising it actively anymore, then I do not think it is censorship.

    If they did have it, but actively removed it, then it is censorship. It is not a 1st amendment violation, but it is censorship.

  • BYODB||

    So, like Disney and 'Songs of the South' then?

    *raises an eyebrow*

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Providing the content but not paying the content creator is not censorship.

    No, that's just Spotify's entire business model.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    From what I've heard, YouTube is going in that direction as well.

  • EscherEnigma||

    It also depends on who has the rights to it.

    If Spotify/Disney/Fox/Whatever owns the rights to something and chooses to not sell authorized copies, that's one thing.

    If Spotify/Disney/Fox/whatever is an authorized vendor and chooses to let that arrangement lapse, that's something else.

    And of course we're also dodging the big question... previously having a contract with a publisher does not entitle you to a future contract with that same publisher.

  • Libertymike||

    Censorship is not limited to state action.

    Therefore, the proposition that censorship can only be effected by means of the state is just plain wrong.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Good thing nobody said that.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    Nope, but you did make an even stupider point than that.

  • shawn_dude||

    The only censorship that matters is that which is caused by state action (or a private monopoly granted by government.) Everything else is personal or corporate liberty to do with your property whatever you want to do... which includes not giving a platform to music you don't like nor selling products you don't like. Heck, you can even lock it in a safe and refuse to share it with the entire world if you like. (Good luck trying that with used CDs still a thing.)

    When people yell "censorship," they're referring to the civil rights violation sort. We accept garden variety curating of content by private entities as a normal part of life.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    You're comparing this to the YouTube situation? And you think that was a good thing? Are you braindead?

  • Vernon Depner||

    So, no more Frank Zappa on Spotify.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Willie The Pimp encourages sexual slavery, for sure.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I want a nasty little Jewish princess...

  • Fk_Censorship||

    You just triggered the SPLC.

  • The_Hoser||

    I can take about an hour on the Tower of Power.

  • damikesc||

    The only way to end this idiocy is to force them to live under their professed ideals.

  • Don't look at me.||

    What happens to the people that listen to the music to decide if it's ok? Do they then go insane after hearing everything others cannot hear?

  • ||

    Back in the day, Cannibal Corpse cassettes were sold without printed lyrics, because they were considered too vulgar. But the cassettes included instructions on how to contact Metal Blade and get the full unedited cassette jacket.

    And yes, I subsequently mailed a request. Fuck the prudes and the censors.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    When your music company is "teaming up" with the Southern Poverty Law Center... I had something for this I swear. But it's bad. Really bad.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Theme from Deliverence?

  • burserker||

    well shit, guess i've got to cancel my subscription. not doing business with a company that consults with splc. i had just built a couple good playlists too. these companies deciding to play politics will regret it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Fighting bigotry is a fine goal, and I am sure Spotify's intentions are pure.

    I don't. Not anymore. Something awful is afoot with these internet companies.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, "fighting bigotry" has nothing to do with it. All they're doing is looking to protect their bottom line. And that is a fine goal - just be honest about it is all.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm wondering if these companies have fallen into a Jesse Jackson Rainbow coalition kind of trap. Where the fear of the Twitter Hate Mob is so powerful that they feel they need to preemptively "deal" with this stuff. I dunno.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I don't even think they're doing that. If so, they're very unexperienced. Paying some lip service to freedom of speech and then ignoring the howling would be a more effective way to deal with this.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Remember when the Beatles were going to ruin our entire society? Good times.

  • Thomas O.||

    Hell, even THEY might get in trouble with Spotify for "Run For Your Life".

  • Cynical Asshole||

    And the less said about "Happiness is a Warm Gun" the better.

  • lennychuck||

    I guess Guns N Roses is on the block. At least Appetite and GNR Lies. Anyone remember the controversy over the lyrics in "One In a Million?"

  • ||

    I remember 'I used to love her....but I had to kill her...'

    Good song.

    Looks over to Spotify? Am I allowed assholes?

  • GeneralWeygand||

    That is immediately what I thought of; it's a great song.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I guessing Christian Music will disappear because Crusades.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Well, also because it's almost universally terrible.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    No matter how much your words hurt me, I will always accept you. With Arms Wide Open.

  • Microaggressor||

    I thought so too until I discovered Neal Morse.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Also, Gospel music is actually great.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Sure, Gospel is badass. I was thinking more Christian Contemporary.

  • H. Farnham||

    My all time favorite King of the Hill line:

    (Hank to a Christian rocker) "You're not making Christianity better, you're just making rock-n-roll worse!"

  • MarkLastname||

    Palestrina is pretty good. He's no Mozart, but he's good.

  • Seamus||

    So I guess we won't be able to listen to anything by Wagner.

  • Rich||

    "Wagner is better than he sounds."

  • MarkLastname||

    Don't even say that. Don't even think it!

  • ||

    Fine Spotify wants to go all Censorfy, bravo.

    But to team up with the SPLC? That ain't right.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I do not get businesses taking political stands like this. How does that help the bottom line?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    See my comment above. I'm wondering if it's like the Jesse Jackson rainbow coalition thing in the 90s. All Jackson had to do was send a bunch of protesters down to your business and suddenly 60 minutes was there shoving microphones in the CEO's face asking why he so racist. So you just pay the protection money and hope everyone leaves you alone.

  • ||

    Except they took it a step further and teamed up with the devil.

    I don't get it either PL. It will be interesting to see what happens to MEC, Patagonia, Dick's, Starbucks, Spotify etc.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's really mystifying is why do companies take this sort of thing seriously or do anything more than make some token statements?

  • ||

    They seem to be taking it seriously. They're actually taking measures. See Starbucks. They focus on stupid things instead of doing their jobs - which I thought was to serve coffee. Until they learn to prepare espresso properly I can't take them seriously.

    I do like the way the gun industry is reacting to Dick's. Enough is enough already.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Maximize shareholder equity.

  • Rhywun||

    Except the Dick's guy admitted it will hurt his share price.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He should be fired.

  • ||

    And we'll see what SH's do.

  • JuanQPublic||

    There also seems to be a correlation between how ingrained Company X is into the culture and amount of scripted, feel-good PR measures they take in response to outrage.

    Starbucks is now as deeply part of American consumer culture as McDonald's and Coca-Cola. Therefore, they project some kind of "deeper responsibility" to the masses. In the end, they're just a coffee company.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    No one wants to be sitting in front of Congress answering questions.

  • ||

    I dunno. It may be a fetish among millennials.

    'Yup. I got my ass hauled before Congress. I'm bad ass. Wanna go for some consensual soy drinks and maybe afterwards enter a contractual but platonic relationship built on sex and pay equity and fair trade?'

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I know Zuckerberg likes it, because it further reinforces his status.

  • ||

    Absolutely I get the feeling he rather enjoyed it.

  • Microaggressor||

    It's more of an indulgence to the church.

  • skunkman||

    Well the SPLC certainly know a lot about hate. They specialize in producing it.

  • Eric L||

    Bye, bye Beatles.

    'I used to be cruel to my woman
    I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved'

    from 'Getting Better'

  • ||

    But it was getting better all the time.

    Heck, what are they gonna do with Lennon's catalogue given his abuse of Yoko? He even sang about it!

  • Mickey Rat||

    Or the Stone's "Under My Thumb".

  • Pro Libertate||

    Ahem:

    Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
    Sold in a market down in New Orleans.
    Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright,
    Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
  • BYODB||


    According to the policy, any tracks or artists identified as "hate content"—defined as music that "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"—will be either removed from Spotify altogether or suppressed in promotions and stripped out of any platform-generated playlists.


    But what about the disparate impact of this policy, huh? /sarc

  • Rhywun||

    I'll grab the popcorn while Spotify works out the quota numbers.

  • BYODB||

    Yeah, using N.W.A. was a great example. Because, you know, silencing black voices because their angry lyrics against whitey will go over so well with people. Music is political speech almost by definition, and especially groups like N.W.A. or Rage Against the Machine.

    I suspect we'll see a 'your race isn't as good as whitey, so you get a pass on your animal ways' type caveat from them. Because you know, what's more racist than assuming an entire race can't do better? That usually seems to be their 'get out of jail free' card, in that they only discriminate against their primary user base. Whoops!

    I guess Spotify is looking to put themselves out of business, but frankly I've never met anyone that uses them so I suspect this is more of a 'last nail in the coffin' type scenario. What makes me laugh the most, I suppose, is that people like to pretend that conservative type values are dead but in reality it seems they metastized.

  • JuanQPublic||

    This is a call for innovation- the creation of a streaming music repository that declares no censorship of any idea or expression of that idea. Music is such an important body of art that reflects culture, time, and place, which increases understanding of history. NWA is important in that regard.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    I'm assuming you don't know anyone who uses it because you're around 50. Tons of young people use it. Everyone at college uses it, whether that be the free version or the premium version.

    This is definitely not the last nail in the coffin, but it does signal a downturn in their business. It might be better described as the beginning of the end, unless something changes for the better.

  • TxJack 112||

    The SPLC is a leftist hate organization itself so having them police anything is idiotic. Spotify will find out how bad an idea this is very quickly.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Indeed, it's all subjective regulation of speech within a centralized music repository. Both of those things working together is very bad for many reasons.

  • Mickey Rat||

    So "chicks" and "mama" are misogynistic slurs now?

    I am just trying to keep up with what is an outrage nowadays.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    If you like it, you can be pretty sure that it's on the list.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Why is every writer at reason always so sure that the leftists who gleefully fuck up our lives and take away our freedoms "mean well"

    How can removing freedom ever 'mean well' at a libertarian site or from a perspective that's even the slightest bit libertarian?

  • BYODB||

    Those cocktail party invites don't go out to people that point out that the majority of our society is anti-liberty, so Reason more or less gave up on that point. Plus, during the Trump years even the appearance of agreeing with a Republican can get your media credentials revoked.

  • JuanQPublic||

    That's the nature of removing most liberties. Assuming bad faith every time one supports bad law or bad policy closes the door on persuading them to see things a different way. For example, many of those who want to constantly increase penalties on opioids or want to stop human trafficking actually mean well. They just happen to support awful policy in the attempt to stop the problems associated with each.

    There is a reason for the saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

  • shawn_dude||

    It isn't your liberty. Spotify is a private company. What they sell or don't sell is *their* liberty. Your liberty is whether you choose to be their customer or not.

    Claiming ownership ("liberty") over another person's property is about as non-libertarian as you can get.

  • JuanQPublic||

    The most important and concerning thing about the possible sanitizing of music on Spotify is that like other censorship campaigns, removal of context such as time and place of the art within the larger culture will help to dumb down society even faster. The NWA example was a good one- they recorded many songs that reflect their surroundings in a certain time and place. To remove it on the basis of "hate speech" means to also sanitize history. This is extremely damaging to promoting critical thought and understanding our own culture.

  • Wolf 359||

    JUST SKIP, DOWNVOTE, OR IGNORE THE SONG, YOU PRUDISH DOPES!

    Caps Lock was stuck?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I reached out both Spotify and the Southern Poverty Law Center to ask how this identification of hate content will work in practice but did not receive a reply.

    Spotify didn't respond because they don't respond to haters. The SPLC didn't reply because they're too busy adding Reason to their list of hate groups.

  • JuanQPublic||

    One excellent recent development is the Maajid Nawaz lawsuit against the SPLC. They quickly removed the Islamophobe "extremist" list in response, instead of defending it based on evidence, which clearly shows how much merit that list really had. Even so, it persisted for two years, which is more than enough time to spread the slime.

  • livefree||

    There goes most european black metal bands.

  • Jeep's Blues||

    From today's LA Times:

    "UltraViolet, a national organization working on a range of issues including reproductive rights, healthcare, economic security, violence and racial justice, published an open letter Monday to Spotify head Daniel Ek, applauding a recent decision to pull Kelly and XXXTentacion's music from playlists and algorithmic recommendations.

    However, the group is also imploring that the policy be expanded to give the same treatment to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley, Steven Tyler, 6ix9ine and Chris Brown — acts that have been accused of abusing or harassing women. "[These] two men are not the only abusers on your platform. We implore you to take a deeper look at the artists you promote," the organization's executive director Shaunna Thomas wrote in the letter.

    "Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse," the letter continued. "That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist."

    Expect more of this. Much more.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Eventually everyone becomes an enemy of the revolution.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Under My Thumb
    Sympathy For The Devil
    Maxwell's Silver Hammer
    Ride of the Valkyries

    All gone now. The culture warriors simply will never stop. We are no longer free to listen to what we want and form our own views. I hope people like living under a Nazi regime; the so-called alt-right has nothing on these folks.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I dunno, I think a slightly modified version of "Under My Thumb" would be a great theme song for the Ctrl-Left.

  • JudoPete||

    So does this mean all of the rap music with the "N-word" is going to be stricken? By Potok's standard as it would be applied to white people those lyrics are racist.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Why do I have a feeling that they will not find anything offensive about music that uses the phrase honky or cracker?

  • SIV||

  • SIV||

    Hell, youtube even has Alabama Nigger with Spanish-lyric subs!

  • Cloudbuster||

    well-intentioned

    Assertion requires evidence.

  • Cloudbuster||

    This isn't new. They're just being more open about it.

  • Cloudbuster||

    If Frank Zappa was alive he'd promptly write ten songs full of nothing but "hate speech."

  • John C. Randolph||

    And he'd do it brilliantly.

    I miss Frank.

    -jcr

  • John C. Randolph||

    OMFG! Did you really write "faggot" instead of "F-word"? There's a torchlight parade heading your way!

    -jcr

  • Whorton||

    I love these leftist companies that are so willing to sacrifice themselves to progressive politics. . .

    Starbucks and homeless now living in their toilets

    Spotify and SPLC's guidelines for what is acceptable music. . .

    What's next?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    What makes you think the policy is "well intended"?

    Seriously, at some point you've got to realize we're not facing a plague of well meaning fools. We're facing a widespread movement to censor every slightest hint of an idea they disagree with.

    There aren't any good intentions here, just an upraised hobnailed boot, poised to grind your face.

  • yawbus||

    100% correct.

  • T. Lord||

    "the principle message"

  • skunkman||

    I love Spotify and use it often, but another competitor will come along and do things better. And they will eat Spotify alive.

    I am by no means a right winger, but the left in the country today are scary. It is interesting that they label the far right as the fascists. The truth is that the left seems to be embracing fascism, anti-liberty and authoritarianism as acceptable and even desired. May Tipper Gore should have been a clue, but the trend is building. Maybe the best thing about Trump is how much he pisses off these nuts.

  • shawn_dude||

    Read the headline and thought "oh, this'll be good. a bunch of conservatives on a libertarian blog are going to argue that companies shouldn't be able to choose their own products or sell their services as they see fit."

    And it was all that and more.

    Conservative snowflakes yodeling about censorship and racism a fascism like a single streaming music company making content choices is the end of the world. Hey... next time, you should get mad a Christian book stores for refusing to sell Wiccan spell books!

    Thanks. I needed that laugh.

  • Don't look at me.||

    The only thing funny is how you misunderstood almost everything here.

  • gagster||

    And it was all that and more.

    Even though not a single person made that argument? You're a god damned liar.

  • vek||

    Don't worry people, songs specifically about violence against white people will be totally fine! ESPECIALLY if they're men!

    When is this progtardedness going to stop?????? I was talking to an immigrant from Costa Rica the other day who moved to the US as a youngish child, and he was bitching about the endless political correctness and how he can't take it anymore. He was hispanic with a touch of black even! If even such a horribly oppressed person as that can't take it anymore, how much longer can it go on for?

  • yawbus||

    Horrible Idea. Play the damn music and let the public debate its merits.

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