#MeToo demands of Spotify may end music as we know it

Those of you who use the music service Spotify may already be aware that they instituted a new policy wherein they are automatically removing the music of certain artists accused of sexual harassment or abuse from users’ playlists. These include such performers as R. Kelly and XXXTentacion, both of whom have had more than their fair share of allegations made against them. (Or convictions in some cases.) While this was seen as a step in the right direction by many in the #MeToo movement, a women’s group known as UltraViolet wasn’t satisfied. They generated an additional list of artists to also get the ax and criterion to identify even more. (LA Times)

In response to Spotify’s newly launched Hate Content and Hateful Conduct public policy, women’s advocacy group UltraViolet is calling on the streaming service to widen its net beyond R. Kelly and XXXTentacion, which were the first acts to see their music removed from promotional playlists.

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.

Part of this has to do with allegations of real-world actions by some of these musicians. Others are commenting on inappropriate lyrics which “encourage” violence against women. When it’s the former, this is certainly understandable. If the charges are proven there’s no reason not to hold them accountable. When it’s simply allegations they should be looked into seriously. Some of them seem beyond question, such as the inclusion of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their lead singer was convicted in court of indecent assault back in 1990. I was rather distressed to see Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on the list, not having heard much about allegations against him. And then there was, er… this. (I won’t unfold the details here.)

But how about musicians who perform songs with “questionable content”seen to encourage violence and sexual abuse of women as we measure such things in the Me Too era? Isn’t that the same as blaming video games for rising murder rates? And taking only a few moments to think about it we would probably be wiping out a significant portion of the male music industry with such a ban, including most of the genres. You might be striking a blow for Time’s Up, but you could leave us with nothing on the radio but Justin Bieber. (And maybe The Biebs doesn’t even get a pass.)

If you identify artists with credible claims against them of sexual assault and abuse, by all means feel free to try to chase them off Spotify or any other platforms. But when it comes to questionable lyrics, it’s probably better to educate everyone and let the free market render the verdict.