Google, CD Baby, Deezer Join Spotify by Removing Neo-Nazi Bands

Google, CD Baby, Deezer, and Spotify say “NO” to hate-filled music on their platforms.

In the wake of deadly neo-nazi protests in Charlottesville, Digital Music News found that users on Spotify could easily stream music from thirty-seven white supremacist, neo-nazi groups.  The move prompted the company to quickly take down several bands from its app.  Spotify also released a statement that other bands were under review.

Now, Google, CD Baby, and Deezer have taken action against bands that promote discrimination and racism on their platforms.

In 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published a list of fifty-four white supremacist, neo-nazi groups on iTunes.  The report prompted Apple to quickly take down the groups’ catalogs.  But instead of disappearing altogether, the bands simply transitioned to popular streaming platforms to reach a new audience.

Following the publication of DMN’s article, Spotify released this statement.

Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention.  We are glad to have been alerted to this content — and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder.

Deezer also vowed to take immediate action against artists that encourage discrimination.

Deezer does not condone any type of discrimination or form of hate against individuals or groups because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality.  We are in the process of swiftly and actively reviewing the content on our platform and have begun and will continue to remove any material that is in any way connected to any white supremacist movement or belief system.

In a statement to Variety, a Google spokesperson said,

“YouTube and Google Play have clear policies that prohibit content like hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts.”

The company also promised to remove any content that violates these policies.

Variety underscored the difficulty users have when flagging content on Google Play Music.  Unlike YouTube, it doesn’t offer a direct option to easily report questionable music.  To flag a discriminatory track, users will have to file feedback from a separate menu.

Through distribution services, many independent bands have submitted their albums to popular music services, including Spotify.  CD Baby, a popular music distributor, reaffirmed their position against hate-filled, discriminatory music.  CEO Tracy Maddux said,

We believe hate speech is particularly odious, and we try not to carry it, per our hate speech policy.  CD Baby does not intentionally distribute content that promotes violence against persons of a specific race, color, religion, nationality, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and we reserve the right to refuse submissions of this nature, or to cancel submissions that fall into this category at any time.

Maddux added that they will work closely with the CD Baby community to identify and quickly take down hate-promoting tracks.

We carry over 8 million songs that hundreds of thousands of artists self-distribute on the CD Baby platform, and it is impossible to screen every song for objectionable content.  Our practice has been to encourage our community to let us know if there is content available on our site that violates these guidelines.

“Reports of hate-promoting music are taken very seriously and we are making every effort to flag and vet tracks of concern.  In the event we find content in violation of these guidelines, we will take it down.

The statements signal a strong push by the music and tech industries to address the issue of policing discriminatory content online.  For example, both PayPal and Apple Pay have refused to support websites selling white supremacist material.  And Google and GoDaddy booted popular neo-nazi website The Daily Stormer from their respective hosting services.  Indeed, Cloudflare practically crippled the site by discontinuing internet routing to the site.

Not everyone has agreed with these moves, however.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lambasted Google and GoDaddy’s response to The Daily Stormer.  And Cloudflare only severed their support after the Daily Stormer claimed that the company was secretly supporting white supremacist ideology.

In a statement, the EFF said,

We strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous.

“Because internet intermediaries, especially those with few competitors, control so much online speech, the consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world.

CloudFlare also sided with the EFF.  CEO Matthew Prince said,

We wholeheartedly agree with the concerns raised by the EFF.  They reflect the same concerns we raised in our blog.

Accordingly, Cloudflare’s complete statement on the Daily Stormer situation can be found here.


Image by John Kittelsrud (CC by 2.0)

20 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Will be issuing a retraction and apology for its libelous slurring of several non-Nazi, non-racist bands in its original post? Or will it continue to let that disgusting trash remain?

    • Anonymous

      “libelous slurring of several non-Nazi, non-racist bands”

      I’m not familiar with any of these bands, but if you are one of them, and you’re not a Nazi/racist, you can sue for defamation.

      If you’re aware of other victims, you might consider a class suit.

      It’s sad that it should come to this, especially because it could be the end of DMN.

      But if you are correct, and several acts are innocent of these very specific and serious accusations, these artists will may now lose their source of income, along with any possibility of ever working in the industry again, and a lawsuit is probably their only way to defend themselves.

      • Anonymous

        Paul has offered no evidence beyond “Spotify’s algorithms” that Hate Forest and Bolzer are racist bands. Several others have discussed particular Oi bands (I can’t comment there as I am unfamiliar). In response he offered weak excuses about his “interpretations,” as if his interpretation of an artist that openly disavows in multiple interviews any association with NS, white supremacist, or far-right causes, is sufficient evidence to smear said artist and damage their livelihood. It’s unbelievably irresponsible and has been picked up now by several major media outlets that are citing his articles uncritically.

        This is coming days after several stories of those who were doxxed and exposed to death threats although they were not at Charlottesville and have had nothing to do with hate causes. That Paul and DMN refuse to see the problem with their actions or take corrective action–in fact doing the opposite and patting themselves on the back for a story that contains false accusations–is vile. If they cannot apologize to the artists and retract the story they deserve to be sued and I’m fairly certain Paul’s “interpretations” will not be seen in court as sufficient evidence to damage someone’s reputation and livelihood.

        • Spade = Spade

          Yeah, well Paul has been backing this up and I think he’s also a lawyer. Here’s just a little bit for you guys on Hate Forest which yes, surprise to noone, was totally Neo Nazi in the Aryan Black Metal scene of Ukraine.

          “Lyrically, Hate Forest fall in line with the rest of the National Socialist Black Metal crowd that don’t see the irony of championing Nazi-ism in a former Soviet satellite state.”

          But just listen to their music really!

          • Anonymous

            Can you cite some of these supposedly NS lyrics, or are you happy to take some kid’s writing on a site anyone can post on as “proof”?

            I mean–seriously?

  2. Versus

    This is potentially a slippery slope.
    Where will this kind of censorship, however well-intentioned, end?

    • Anonymous

      “Where will this kind of censorship, however well-intentioned, end?”

      Where it always ends:

      In fascism.

      The damage Paul has done, not only to music, but to free speech, is unreparable.

      I completely share all his opinions about Nazis and White Supremacists, and the dangers they pose, especially at this moment — but no variation of censorship has ever worked.

      This is book burning and McCarthyism, and it’s absolutely disgusting.

    • Spade = Spade

      Wow, that’s some dramatic stuff, slow… clap. He should be the one as President of the USA.

    • Anonymous

      “Paul, if you’re interested in the damage you’re causing”

      He obviously isn’t, but the Politico-article in the link below (I’m posting a few excerpts here and then the link itself in a separate message below because links tend to be delayed a day or two) explains why the even Nazis deserve free speech — not for their sake, but for ours — and why we all should be very worried because of pro-censorship guys like Paul right now:

      “Most Americans claim that they venerate free speech in principle. So do most world leaders. Even censorial dictators like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan sometimes feign support for it. Despite this, it’s common for people to have their exceptions in practice: their “I believe in free speech, but …” responses. But even the “free speech, but …” responses seem to be falling out of favor. In the last few years—and especially after Charlottesville—we have observed increasing squeamishness about free speech, and not just in practice; also in principle.

      So how do we respond to the calls for censorship after Charlottesville?

      For most of our careers, the charge “what if the Nazis came to town?” has been posed as a hypothetical retort to free speech defenses. (Godwin’s law extends to free speech debates, too.) But the hypothetical is no longer a hypothetical: In Charlottesville, neo-Nazis carried swastikas through the streets and revived the Hitler salute.

      If you were to listen to scholars like Richard Delgado, the response should be to pass laws, to put people in jail, to do whatever it takes to stop the Nazi contagion from spreading. It’s a popular argument in Europe and in legal scholarship, but not in American courts.

      There are a few problems with this response that free speech advocates have long recognized. For one, it doesn’t necessarily work; since the passage of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism laws in Europe, rates of anti-Semitism remain higher than in the U.S., where no such laws exist. In fact, the Anti-Defamation League found that rates of anti-Semitism have gone down in America since it first began measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in 1964.

      What’s more, in the 1920s and 30s, Nazis did go to jail for anti-Semitic expression, and when they were released, they were celebrated as martyrs.
      “As Neier, a Holocaust survivor, concluded in his book, “The lesson of Germany in the 1920s is that a free society cannot be established and maintained if it will not act vigorously and forcefully to punish political violence.”

      But we should not be so myopic about the value of freedom of speech. It is not just a practical, peaceful alternative to violence. It does much more than that: It helps us understand many crucial, mundane and sometimes troubling truths. Simply put, it helps us understand what people actually think—not “even if” it is troubling, but especially when it is troubling.”

      “So what do we do about white supremacists? Draw a strong distinction between expression and violence: punish violence, but protect even speakers we find odious. Let them reveal themselves.

      As Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says, it’s important to know who the Nazis are in the room.


      Because we need to know not to turn our backs to them.”

  3. Raul Resnikoff

    To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

    • Anonymous

      Paul, this is disingenuous and a total cop out and you’re smart enough to do better. We should distinguish two lines of blowback that you’re receiving here

      1) the frankly silly arguments about “free speech,” which are out of place- no one’s free speech is threatened by their music/art being removed from corporate distribution services. The 1st Amendment in the USA does not guarantee anyone the right to broadcast their opinions through any channel they wish. Google, Spotify etc can remove any artist FOR ANY reason and this does not impact anyone’s 1st Amendment rights.

      2) the specific argument about your journalistic integrity and your lack of research and citation when making a strong accusation against an artist concerning the identity and motives of their expression. To date the ONLY evidence you have offered to justify “outing” additonal bands as Nazi/white supremacists is “Spotify’s algorithms” and your “interpretation” of one artist’s tattoos. I hope upon reflection you can see that this is NOT sufficient evidence to make such a strong accusation and is in fact deeply irresponsible of you. We’ve seen over the past week how, in the rush to condemn, innocents have been falsely accused of association with far-right causes and had their lives impacted by people who, well intentioned or not, acted irresponsibly and without considering that they could be wrong. By accusing non-Nazi bands of these associations you are perpetuating the same problem, and now to defend yourself you are sanctimoniously invoking the idea that YOU are under attack for criticizing powerful forces. You are under attack for statements issued without a single shred of proof offered in their defense, which is libel. And you are under attack for failing to retract these accusations after being repeatedly called out on your lack of research and evidence.

      Please consider how you would feel if you were falsely accused by someone who put the burden of proving your innocence on you rather than on themselves to show proof. Please show some journalistic integrity and admit that you jumped the gun and smeared several artists without properly doing your due diligence. There is simply no reason to double down on false and irresponsible accusations.

      • Anonymous

        “and you’re smart enough to do better”

        This is not Paul, but you’re obviously not smart enough to read, let alone know better.

        If you were, you’d also be aware that censorship doesn’t work — never did and never will.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not smart enough to read but I am smart enough to point out that I said nothing about the merits of censorship or whether it works. What I did assert is that a private corporation regulating content on its servers is not a 1st Amendment issue/free speech issue. Perhaps we both need to brush up on our reading skills

      • Daniel Sanchez

        That wasn’t Paul. That was someone named “Raul Resnikoff.”

        • Anonymous

          That’s pretty funny and I can admit my mistake caused by quickly reading this on a phone. It is also funny how quick DMN to correct my mistake while continuing to leave up a list that misidentifies several artists as Nazi/white supremacist without offering anything resembling proof of those claims. I would think that they’d be in a hurry to correct that too

  4. Anonymous

    Although I don’t support nazi ideology, I do support our 1st Amendment. I even support businesses having the right to control their content as they desire. But lets be honest, what is the difference between the hate, racism, and violence some of these nazi bands preach, versus the multitudes of rap groups, and artist who are allowed to preach the exact same message through their music using these hosting sites? It is a double standard to host gangster rap that is equally violent, racist, and that objectifies women. Not to mention other forms of music violent music from death metal, to narcocorrido. I feel like we’re reliving the PMRC days all over again, but with a weird bias twist. In my opinion, if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. I won’t be support any these music sites who discriminate against the 1st Amendment, regardless of the content. You shouldn’t either. But if you want censorship instead of freedom, that is your choice. Just know this, what works in your favor today, will work against you tomorrow.