We said yesterday that we are saddened by Spoitify’s new PC “partnerships”. We like Spotify. We like it quite a lot. But if the thought police get ahold of the platform that would be a tragedy.
They are trying.
Let’s be clear about this too: Whether or not Ultraviolet is right that these musicians are “glorified” by virtue of appearing on Spotify-generated playlists and promotions, Thomas has a point when she argues that it’s inconsistent to refuse to promote R. Kelly’s music but not Brown’s or Kiedis’s. If the company is actually serious about this new policy, it’ll have to go a lot further than R. Kelly and XXXTentacion.
And I mean a lot further. Ultraviolet’s list just scratches the surface. Whether it’s Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 13-year-old cousin or David Bowie taking the virginity of a 14-year-old, a lot of pop stars’ escapades don’t conform to modern norms of affirmative consent and gender equity. There’s no shortage of articles (start with this listicle from the Phoenix New Times) retelling tales of statutory rape and sexual assault by beloved rockers and rappers.
It doesn’t stop there. A fair number of rappers have been convicted of murder, manslaughter, or some other violent crime. Dig into the history of Norwegian black metal and you’ll learn that members of such foundational bands as Burzum, Gorgoroth, and Mayhem have been found guilty of church burnings, torture, and murdering bandmates.
Needless to say, just because this kind of behavior is common in the music scene doesn’t make it OK. But it does raise the question of what a music streaming service can really be expected to do about it. Indeed, blacklisting these bands may make many of Spotify’s features functionally useless. What classic rock playlist would exclude the Beatles?
Frank Zappa where are you???