Australian Senator Calls Musicians “A Bunch of Privileged Prima Donnas”

Australian Senator Calls Musicians “A Bunch of Privileged Prima Donnas” Over Spotify Australia Day Playlist Controversy
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As a Spotify subscriber, does Australian Senator Cory Bernardi have the right to create a playlist that musicians despise?

Last year, in a controversial move, government-funded Australian radio station Triple J announced that it would change the date of its annual ‘Hottest 100’ playlist.  Traditionally held on January 26th, the playlist release date coincided with Australia Day.

First celebrated as a public holiday in 1994, Australia Day celebrates the arrival of the British fleet in New South Wales.

Not everyone in Australia agrees with Australia Day, though.  Critics claim that the day causes pain to Indigenous Australians.  They are reminded of Australia’s history of discrimination, violence, and dispossession against them.  The backlash became so fierce that multiple artists, including Indigenous artists, called for Triple J to change the date.  The government-funded radio station agreed, choosing to release its popular Hottest 100 countdown in the fourth week of January.

Cory Bernardi, however, disagreed.  The charismatic right-wing Australian senator published an alternate playlist to celebrate Australia Day.  Dubbed the AC100, fans could stream music from Savage Garden, Kylie Minogue, Peter Garret, and others on Spotify.

A statement on the Australian Conservative party website reads,

As taxpayer-funded Triple J and their ‘Hottest 100’ abandon our national day for political correctness, we’re inviting you to cast your vote by telling us your favorite 3 tracks from our #AC100 playlist.


Musicians featured on the prominent Australian Conservative Spotify playlist immediately lambasted Bernardi.  Savage Garden singer Darren Hayes, the most vocal critic, tweeted,

“I do not want to be associated with you, your party or your views.  Remove my music from this stunt or expect contact from my publisher.”

In a public tweet sent to multiple artists, he asked,

Are you guys cool with the far right Australian Conservatives using our music to promote their agenda?  Because I’m not.  What say you?

Mick Thomas, former guitarist for Weddings Parties Anything, demanded that Bernardi remove the group’s songs from the playlist.

Speaking on the criticism, Cory Bernardi told the media that he had the right to create his own playlist.  Believing that Australia Day is worth celebrating, he lambasted musicians for denying his privilege as a paid Spotify subscriber.

“I’m allowed to put whatever music I like on my playlist, just like every other Australian…  I’m a subscriber to Spotify.  All of these artists have sold their music, their moral rights and everything else to Spotify.  I’m complying with Spotify’s terms of conditions and there’s nothing they can do about it.  They can whinge and whine and complain all they want.  It’s like a pylon of hate from a bunch of privileged prima donnas.”

Slamming Triple J as well as other rival political parties for “politicizing Australia Day,” Bernardi added,

“If these people don’t want people like me to be creating playlists with their music on it, then remove it from Spotify.”

You can find the tendentious #AC100 playlist here or listen to it below.



Featured image by SavageGardenVEVO (YouTube screengrab)

6 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Whoever this guy is certainly sounds like an asshole, but I don’t think he’s wrong about the playlists. If the music was being played in campaign rallies, that would require permission from the copyright owners. In this case, the music is just being added to a playlist. I think if someone wanted to create a playlist in Spotify called “Music To Listen To While Flogging Baby Seals”, and then add your songs to that playlist, and allow other Spotify subscribers to listen to that playlist, I don’t think there’s much anyone can really do about it. If the name of the playlist contained offensive language, that probably would be a violation of Spotify’s terms and conditions (or at least I hope it would be). The title “AC100” doesn’t fall into that category though.

    • Anonymous

      He’s an asshole because of what? He disagreed with the PC police and created what looks like a pretty good playlist of Australian music … everyone needs to grow up!

  2. Brad Watts

    Pretty sure the licence Mr Bernardi pays for via his Spotify subscription wouldn’t encapsulate public broadcast of any material he’d include in a playlist he publicly shares.

    • Steve P.

      There’s a little more to it than written about here. The change the date movements has been going on for years, it’s just that it’s only this year that big media has started to back the push – because it now suits them. The actual push is to change the date of Australia Day, whereas Triple J asked it’s audience what they think of the Hottest 100 being on Australia day (note that it existed for 10 years before it was moved to Australia day for commercial reasons) and their core audience wanted it moved. There was artistic push helping the movement, but it’s misleading to suggest Triple J has any kind of power in changing anything other than what they broadcast on what day – they were simply making a commercial decision that improves their branding. The artist’s on the playlist have every right to ask for their music to be excluded as it’s being used to push a political agenda that is inflammatory and divisive. While Bernardi’s subscription allows him the right to make this playlist, if he was to play the playlist in a public setting he would need to pay an additional license fee to APRA. However, it’s important in my view that Spotify take a stand here to protect their artists and show that while they have a license to let their users re-purpose music, it should come with consideration with what any artist is comfortable with, especially on such a hotly politicised issue that is damaging to members of society.

      • Anonymous

        Rubbish … just another uninformed left-wing rant, playlists don’t contain any music, they are simply links to music that the person using them would have to own a license for.