Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Resistance 77 was identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center on a list of bands affiliated with white supremacy. Resistance 77 was not included in that list, and we apologize to the band for the error. A band member told Vice News emphatically that Resistance 77 “are not and have never been a white supremacist band.”
Tech companies are practically sprinting to distance themselves from white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Among the latest notable entrants is Spotify, which on Wednesday said it would be taking down or reviewing the music of dozens of white supremacist artists, in response to a report from Digital Music News. The company said in a statement to VICE News that it “takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention.”
Across Silicon Valley, companies like Twitter, Google, PayPal, and other tech heavyweights are publicly cutting business ties to far-right hate groups. Prior to Charlottesville, tech companies tended to defend accommodating organized white supremacists — either as customers or users — on “free speech” grounds. Among music services, only Spotify and the France-based Deezer have said they would be removing neo-Nazi and white supremacist music.
Apple Music, which is the second-most-popular paid music streaming service in the U.S., continues to host a number of white supremacist bands, based on a cursory scan. These include artists identified as either white supremacists or affiliates of such groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center as far back as 2014; some names still on Apple Music include Ken McLellan, Close Shave, Offensive Weapon, and Queensbury Rules.
In 2014, Apple began pulling white power music from iTunes after sustained pressure from the SPLC. That effort resulted in the removal of more well-established neo-Nazi bands such as Skrewdriver. After the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Apple said that would stop allowing a number of websites to use Apple Pay to service their transactions. Spokespersons for Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
No on-demand music streaming service has yet reached profitability — a particular point of pain for the enormously popular Spotify. But the sector as a whole has been a boon for the recording industry. Streaming services accounted for 51 percent of all recorded music revenue in 2016, and gave the industry its first year-over-year revenue growth in nearly two decades.