I have said (in online forums much sleazier than this) that “I would go without food before I went without my Spotify.” Which may have been an exaggeration, but not a very big one. My loyalty to Spotify is deep, for a variety of reasons. I’ll give you the Top 3:
- Spotify gave me access to unlimited music when I was totally broke and lonely and desperate. I was as if some miraculous new friend just suddenly showed up at my apartment with perhaps the world’s largest collection of music, and wanted to play them for me in whatever order I wanted to hear them 24 hours a day. Sure, I had to sit through a 15-second self-promotional commercial every few songs, but who cares…I was broke and had all the music in the world. Well, a hell of a lot of it.
- I’m a big fan of underdogs, and Spotify took on Pandora, Google, and Apple, all of whom have been trying and failing to play catch up since. Spotify is one of the few apps I subscribe to not to access the features that come with subscriptions, but because I actually want to see the company do well and will do what I can to support it.
- Spotify is just an excellent product. It’s reliability is amazing, it’s cross-platform functionality, even it’s design and color choice…it’s brilliant.
I have defended the practices of Spotify as well as other streaming services (most commonly the relatively small paydays for artists from streaming music) of being the only viable legal alternative to digital piracy.
You get the point: I love and adore Spotify, and I’m fiercely loyal to things I love and adore.
So how could it come to pass that all of sudden in the last week of May, I found myself very close to deleting my account and taking alternative measures?
It should have been a great week for us: At long last, Peter Gabriel’s entire solo catalog became available to stream. This was huge news. And I listened to the hell out of Mr. Gabriel for a few days straight. Things were great. And then, right at our finest moment, Spotify announces that it’s concocted some bullshit PC policy that apparently stated that if someone somewhere was upset or offended by something an artist had done, that Spotify would not promote that artist’s music or include it in any promotional playlists. There was no mention of artists who had been charged with crimes or not, no mention of who exactly was on the committee to decide which artists’ personal lives and behavior were so unacceptable as to have their music…what, unpromoted?
An hour later came the list of organizations with which Spotify had suddenly gotten into bed with: it included the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, Color Of Change, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), GLAAD, Muslim Advocates, and the International Network Against Cyber Hate. Holy shit. As big of an advocate for Spotify as I have been, I almost (and it could still happen, now that I’m thinking about it and getting pissed off all over again) became one of their legions of opponents: I don’t want anybody placing any kind of filter on what I can or cannot, should or should not listen to, watch, or read, especially the members of this parade of idiots.
Suffice it to say, this dimwitted idea backfired immediately. The first wave came about 10 minutes after the policy was announced, when American listeners who would never have listened to the artists on this bullshit blacklist otherwise (the main two were R. Kelly and something called XXXTentacion) immediately put both of these acts on heavy rotation on their personal playlists, not because we were suddenly interested in this music (personally, I could not be less interested: R. Kelly can sing, I suppose, but his songs are banal bullshit, and XXXTentacles or whatever it is is unlistenable to my ears…but that’s just me), but because fuck you, Spotify. I could not give less of a rat’s ass about what the Impoverish of the South or the goddamn Muslim Advocates thought about the musicians on Spotify, and if I had wanted their opinions of shitty musical acts, I would have asked. Who the hell do you think you are, attempting to in any way censor artistic expression based on the opinion of the moronic PC herd. That shit may fly in Sweden, but not here. Never mind what the PC rabble say…America expects its artists to behave badly. More on that in a few weeks.
Quick cut here to 1977: the Sex Pistols released “God Save the Queen,” a withering punk indictment of the treatment of the British working class by the monarchy, and when this happened, the monarchy absolutely shit themselves. They did everything they could to ban the playing and sales of this record. The manager and much of the group’s entourage were arrested after a performance of the song: sales went up. The government sought to manipulate the charts to keep the song from rising above #2 on the charts: sales went up. When the government could no longer deny that the song was far and away the best selling song in the country, it censored the actual charts, showing a blank space where the song should have been:
Quick cut back to the present: One day after the roll out of this insipidly stupid policy, Spotify was about to find itself in the same humiliating situation as the English Crown did over 30 years ago: these two acts (Kelly and XXX) were suddenly sailing to the top spots on the charts, not due to any artistic merit or even a new release, but because of Spotify’s own ill-conceived, ill-intentioned, and misguided attempts to placate the mewling morons that constitute the PC Thought Police these days. I know I was not alone in looking forward to seeing exactly how Spotify was going to try to handle R Kelly being on the Top 10 most played artists of the week when doing so would violate it’s own new pathetic policy.
Unfortunately, we wouldn’t get a chance to watch what promised to have been one of the all-time great minefield tap-dances because later in the week, “industry pressure” had been so extreme on Spotify as to cause it to completely cave and “walk back” their doltish policy on “hateful content.” [Which, by the way, how the fuck is “I Believe I Can Fly” hateful content? It isn’t. None of the actual content was hateful at all…so why censor it in any way?] The arguments went something like this: You’ve concocted this absurdly vague policy which puts you in the position to censor things at will. You immediately used it to censor two acts, both of whom were black men. Are you suggesting that there are no white, Hispanic, or Asian acts which have participated in essentially the same behavior to these two? And before you answer that, let’s just state the fact that if you do impose this ludicrously over-reaching vague censorship policy “fairly” and evenly across the board, you will be left with about 3 albums in total you’ll be able to work with, and 2 of those will be by ABBA.
So just as quickly as this stupid policy was rolled out, it was voided, with Spotify saying that they didn’t want to put themselves in the position of being “judge and jury” on these issues. Oh, really? What exactly in the fuck did you think you were doing, you cretinous simpletons?
Okay…enough of this bilge. There is a book that needs writing. Now I’m all upset again.
N.P.: “Anarchy in the U.K.” – The Sex Pistols