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Spotify pulls several ‘hate bands’ from its service

Spotify pulls several ‘hate bands’ from its service

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Spotify has removed several bands classified as “hate bands” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), according to a report from Billboard. The decision comes one day after Digital Music News published a list of 37 white supremacist musicians still available to stream on the platform. Now, a Spotify spokesperson has confirmed to Billboard that several of the artists have pulled from streaming, while others are under review.

In 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a report on racism and digital music titled Music, Money, and Hate. It concluded that there were at least 54 white supremacist bands selling music on iTunes that Apple was profiting from. Apple responded to the report by removing the bands, but SPLC noted at the time that Spotify and Amazon were slow to do the same.

Spotify claims it wasn’t aware these bands were on its platform.

“Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to Billboard. “We are glad to have been alerted to this content — and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder.”

The removal of the bands follows a violent rally of white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.

Spotify hosts millions of bands and musicians, and although many of those come through a label or distributor, licensing companies like TuneCore and CD Baby allow anyone to easily and cheaply put their music on Spotify, with little friction from Spotify itself.

But even if Spotify doesn’t review every band that shows up on its platform, some of its built-in tools aren’t helping matters. Digital Music News reporter Paul Resnikoff notes that it was simple to find white supremacist bands on Spotify because of the streaming service’s recommendation algorithm. Once you find one band, Spotify basically sends the rest your way. Spotify is considering ways to block these recommendations in the future, according to Billboard.

Recently, competitive streaming service Deezer decided to follow Spotify’s lead and remove the same bands from their platform. In an email to Digital Music News, the company said:

“Deezer does not condone any type of discrimination or form of hate against individuals or groups because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality. We are in the process of swiftly and actively reviewing the content on our platform and have begun and will continue to remove any material that is in any way connected to any white supremacist movement or belief system.”

As of now, many of the hate bands discovered by Digital Music News are still available to stream on Spotify, but several have empty artist pages with no music. The Verge has reached out to Spotify for comment and will update with any new information.

Update August 18th, 5:20PM ET: The story has been updated to reflect Deezer’s removal of bands from its platform.