Don’t Blame Me?

While doing my new found favorite activity – stalking our class twitter feed I came across an article that peaked my interest discussing how Spotify is addressing artists social image and personal behavior.

As a loyal team Spotify user over Apple Music, I like to stay up to date on what Spotify is adding, or taking away in this sense, to improve the experience for users. The tweet I found explained Spotify rolling out a “Don’t play this artist” feature where users can block certain artists from appearing on any playlists they listen to. While users can currently avoid hearing artists by not adding them to their personal playlist there is no way to limit what appears on Spotify’s curated playlists and their radio stations.

What truly peaked my interest on this subject was the idea that streaming services may now be held somewhat accountable for how they react to publicity about musicians and how they act. While it’s obviously the problem of the person who’s come under fire for their actions third party sources, like Spotify, are now feeling backlash from users demanding they take artists off the site completely. When Spotify initially took the approach of full removal, other artists threatened to boycott the service for redacting their freedom of speech and expression. This came to light and further investigation with the recent stories of Chris Brown, R. Kelly and XXXTentacion after all 3 were put on blast for the emergence of harassment claims and other issues in their personal lives.

I personally had never looked into the repercussions of these behavioral issues on streaming sites or even considered the idea of them going so far as to remove artists completely. There are certain artists I no longer like listening to because of things they have done, but wouldn’t have thought of the idea to allow blocking of artists from users personal listening experiences. This subject really spoke to me and I thought hard about the situation and how involved I believed streaming sites should be in these types of issues. I brought it up with multiple friends because I wasn’t sure if it was the place of the streaming site to remove artists and from that, if users would accept this solution.

In the age of social media and fast spreading news, we have more information than ever at our fingertips to sift through in order to craft our own opinions on situations and I find that people often dig their heels in when they’ve made up their mind. For this reason I’m not sure that users will be completely satisfied with the blocking feature as it still allows for the artists to make money on the site. Because Spotify has tried to remove artists before, I assume that they came under fire previously from users who felt it was wrong to promote artists with dark pasts.

This lead me to my next thought of where do we draw the line for what it takes for an artist to be completely removed from the site. How do you quantify social issues and their impact on society and judge one thing as being more okay than the other? If Spotify took into account every complaint it must get about an artist being featured, the quantity of musicians on the site would rapidly decrease in turn decreasing the quality of content.

One thing that does interest me about the new service is that you cannot block songs that artists are featured on. This tech glitch could leave the streaming service in hot water if the server plays an artist that a user thinks they have blocked. Could this cause Spotify users to join different streaming service teams or will Apple Music and others need to follow in Spotify’s footsteps?

I personally am excited for this new feature and think it’s a great starting solution to this problem with Spotify. However, I don’t think it is the duty of the streaming service to deal with the repercussions of artists actions and take blame for not immediately removing them from the service. Users can choose not to listen to artists they have a problem with, while people who may not see the behavior displayed as a problem can still listen as much as they want. I think Spotify has gone above and beyond to accommodate its customers requests and dissatisfaction with being shown artists that they are no longer comfortable listening to.

After stalking the “Spotify” and “Block” topics on Twitter there seems to be overwhelmingly positive reactions to the addition of the new feature. Users are excited to share who they blocked or who they’re excited to block once the feature gets added to their profile. R Kelly, Chris Brown and the Chainsmokers are amongst the most popular artists to be blocked so far. Who, if anyone, would you block?

Here’s the link to my Spotify if you want to share music! I’m always open to new suggestions!

https://open.spotify.com/user/1240876560?si=uVmh8q3tRQKAhTxk34MgAQ

10 comments

  1. It is wild how many new features music platforms and social media apps are coming up with. I am a loyal Apple Music Subscriber because of this very reason. Spotify has many great playlists and artists, however, I did not love listening to artists that I was not a fan of in the mix. Now that this “blocking” feature is being offered, I may have to consider checking out Spotify again. Thanks for this posting, very informative!

  2. Honestly, I’m glad you brought this up because I had not previously heard of it and definitely find it disconcerting. Personally, I don’t like when companies make decisions for me such as the case with the music I choose or choose not to listen to. I pay Spotify to be a music platform, not a political entity. I definitely like this shift to create a block feature, this give me back my right to listen. I am really discouraged by companies like Spotify taking a political stance, and forcing their paying, loyal, users to reap the consequences. Granted, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to R. Kelly’s songs before, but still I feel this is a choice I should have as a paying customer, and not a choice a company should make for me.

    -Also just food for thought, but what happens when brands you represent get too political and in particular are on the opposite side of things than you? I’m curious to see what happens if we continue down this path. Maybe some major brands could lose loyal life long customers. Maybe monopolies will break up.

  3. cgriffith418 · ·

    I’m glad to see that you found a general positive response to this feature, since I also think it’s a great idea! Spotify is not a music producer — it fills a role more similar to Google or Facebook as a syndicator of content, rather than producer. As such, I don’t think it should (in general) be in the business of removing artists. However, even Facebook does sensor content in extreme circumstances (like ISIS content), so in drawing a comparison to Facebook, we have to ask, as you did, what counts as “extreme circumstances” in the music world? I’m not sure how to answer that, but I think this feature is a very positive thing in the meantime. Just like you can choose not to follow someone on Facebook, or reduce their presence on your feed, etc, this feature puts content control in the hands of the user.

  4. I am a big user of Spotify, but I had no idea this feature existed. I think you brought up an interesting perspective, where listeners can act on their opinions and to a certain degree deliver justice. The removal of users is an issue that many platform companies are facing. Every year, Facebook and Twitter take heat for not deactivating fake accounts or certain public accounts. I think it is interesting that Spotify gave power to the user rather than unilaterally removing any artists in question. I think this strategic decision is very smart, because now Spotify doesn’t have to “police” their own site and be responsible for removing accounts. To a certain degree, this new button is able to satisfy all users, by allowing them to individually act on their personal opinions.

  5. shannonbenoit5 · ·

    I found this post extremely interesting and I’m really glad you chose this topic! I am an Apple Music user so I didn’t hear about this feature, but I think it is a great idea! Whether you don’t want to listen to an artist because you have issues with their lifestyle or actions, or you just don’t like their music, I think it was a great move on Spotify’s part to make it easier for their users to listen to what they want to listen to, and leave out what that know they don’t. However, I do not think it is Spotify’s place at all to block or delete artists for all users. Yes, I think that most of us can agree that artists like R. Kelly have behaved in unacceptable and disgraceful ways, which is why I chose not to listen to him. However, once Spotify takes it upon itself to determine who we should or should not be allowed to listen to, that is an extremely slippery slope. Most moral issues people have with artists are not black and white and are not universal, and it should be a personal decision about who we chose to listen to, not something that is imposed on us by a service making money off us as a music streaming platform, not the morality police.

  6. In a world that is becoming increasingly dominated by the consumer, I think it will be interesting to see just how far companies will go to support customer concerns. Especially surrounding controversial brands and celebrities. When Khloe Kardashian began selling her line of denim at Nordstrom, I remember Nordstrom received significant backlash. Many consumers requested that they drop her line, suggesting that the association with the Kardashian name tainted the Nordstrom brand. While I agree the Kardashian family is pretty trashy (not a huge fan myself), it begs the question of whether or not it is really Nordstroms job to completely cut her line from production

  7. This is an extremely relevant post, personally I loyal Spotify user and was not even aware of this new feature. I am excited about this and makes me feel good to be investing in a company that is listening and acting on customer feedback. I agree with you that it should not fall to companies like Spotify to deal with the social issues or image of artists. This is a more ethical and moral choice that the consumer should be empowered to have.

  8. kgcorrigan · ·

    This was a really interesting topic to read about! I didn’t know about Spotify’s blocking feature until reading your post, and now I’m curious to check it out. You bring up a great question regarding how to judge one thing as being more okay than another when it comes to social issues, and I am in agreement that streaming services shouldn’t be held responsible for the repercussions of artists’ actions (nor would I want Spotify making a decision regarding which artists I can listen to, as a paying customer). I think the blocking feature is a step in a positive direction and will go a long way in making many users feel like they have control over what they listen to. It will be interesting to see if the glitch related to featured artists on songs will cause any issues among users – I wonder if this was simply an oversight that they plan on addressing, or if they will just let it be.

  9. This is such a topical post – as a loyal Spotify user, and someone who tries to actively “put their money where their mouth is,” I love that I can choose to block specific artists. I understand the reasons against removing artists from a platform, but I do think that those decisions can be made in context, and with as much information as possible. For artists like R. Kelly and Chris Brown, I think companies can definitely make a case for removing them from the platform, as it can be difficult to justify allowing artists to continue making money when, in a similar situation, a “normal” person may have lost their source of income as a consequence for their actions. It’s definitely a fine line, and companies and platforms need to tread carefully, but I think it’s great that users can ensure their actions (or listens, as the case may be) don’t benefit artists whose values or actions they do not support.

  10. Spotify, next to the Messaging app on the Iphone, is the application I use the most. This feature is new to me, but I completely see the reasoning for this. I think it is an interesting idea for a company to allow this to happen. On one side, I see the reasoning of Spotify to keep an artist’s music on their platform while allowing the blocking to occur. Yet, I also understand the argument to ban the artist all together. In the end, I think Spotify must make a decision upon the distinction between the artist and their actual music. I think its a murky situation for companies when attempting to create a policy around the conduct of their artists.

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