Should musicians be removed from streaming platforms?

Jenna Taylor, Staff Writer

With the recent controversy over Kanye West’s antisemitic comments, many have called for streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music to remove his music from their platform. Several companies have already dropped West from their contracts and removed him from their platforms. For example, Madame Tussauds removed the wax figure of him and Peloton banned his music. In addition, Skechers, Gap, Adidas, Balenciaga, Def Jam Records, Goodwill and TJ Maxx will no longer accept Yeezy — West’s fashion brand — and other affiliated products. On the other hand, Spotify and Apple Music still have West’s entire discography up for streaming on their platform. 

While it is completely up to the label’s discretion whether they want to de-platform certain artists, it is seemingly hypocritical for apps like Spotify to pick and choose when they want to act against hate speech. In May of 2018, when R. Kelly was charged with possession and production of child pornography, Spotify responded by de-listing his music from their public playlists and stopped promoting his music. This still meant that R. Kelly was on the platform, but was not officially endorsed by Spotify

Some might think that this is just a matter of whether something offensive is said in their music. However, earlier this year, when country music singer Morgan Wallen was recorded drunkenly screaming racial slurs on video, Spotify removed him from their platform as a result of the backlash he had received. This calls the purpose of the ban into question when hate speech was never used in the music that he was selling.

If Spotify can make the decision to remove Morgan Wallen from their platform, why are controversial artists such as Charles Manson, Morrisey and Marilyn Manson still available for streaming? And why, during such an open and public display of anti-black and antisemitic comments by West, are they hesitating to remove him from their platforms?