Spotify pushes back on pressure to remove Ye’s music


Adidas pulled the plug on its partnership with Ye (formerly Kanye West) yesterday, even as another interview saw the artist double down on views that have been widely condemned as antisemitic.

Pressure on his business partners has also extended to music streaming services, with Endeavor boss Ari Emanuel naming Apple and Spotify specifically in his recent Financial Times op-ed as companies he’d like to stop working with West.

Yesterday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek addressed the issue in an interview with Reuters. Ek said that if Ye’s recent “awful comments” had been made on a podcast or a music track, it would have been removed from Spotify for being hate speech. But as for his back catalogue: “It’s really just his music, and his music doesn’t violate our policy. It’s up to his label, if they want to take action or not.”

The policy is clearly the result of Spotify’s mis-step in 2018, when it de-playlisted music by R. Kelly and XXXTentacion for conduct outside the music itself, and faced strong criticism for doing so. It’s a very sensitive issue, but at least there is clarity: Spotify restricts its moderation to the content of the music, while leaving any removals driven by the conduct of the musician to the relevant rightsholders.

The test – for all DSPs not just for Spotify – will come if and when West releases new music expressing his recent views.

Written by: Stuart Dredge