Advertisement
Music by VICE

Nearly Every Major Online Retailer Is Selling White Power Music

Why is no one talking about this?

by Noisey Staff
Nov 21 2014, 8:23pm

The issue of censorship in music—and art in general— is a weighty one. The bare fact of the matter is that, sometimes, really shitty people make really great records, and it comes down to you, the consumer, to decide how to approach said records. Do you ignore it completely? Do you vocally boycott the band or artist to make a point? Do you download their albums illegally and keep your money out of their hands? Do you say, "Fuck it, I like the music, I don't care who made it"? The "love the art, hate the artist" ethos is why people like Ariel Pink and Varg Vikernes are household names (albeit in very different households). You could choke a whole battalion of Nazis with all the thinkpieces this idea has inspired, and it's not going away anytime soon. The most crucial issue at the heart of the whole thorny topic is transparency. You deserve to know what kind of artist you're supporting, whether you agree with their views or not.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know who's espousing what without doing a little digging, and not every media entity, record label, or writer has the time or inclination to put that effort in. As the Southern Poverty Law Center's Keegan Hankes just discovered, iTunes is guilty of letting a whole lot of awfulness slip into their massive catalog. There is a staggering amount of white power music, National Socialist black metal (NSBM), and otherwise contemptible sonic documents freely available for purchase online from the world's most influential music retailer.

Punk News addressed this issue back in 2006, tracing the source of a Skrewdriver release one of their readers had found on iTunes back to independent music retailer CD Baby. They interviewed CD Baby president Derek Sivers, and his stance on the matter echoes back to the question of censorship's role in art. "It's too slippery of a slope to go anywhere near it. Start with one album, and we'll have to commit ourselves to a lifetime of deciding, on every album that comes in, if it's offensive or hateful and if we should allow it. We get 200-300 new albums a day now, so there's just no way we can judge them all. Plus, I don't want to let complainers rule our actions. What if we started getting complaints about Pagan albums? Complaints about Liberal politics albums? Do we remove anything that lots of people complain about? Obviously not. So what we decided to do is this: For every dollar we make selling some obviously racist/Nazi/whatever album, we contribute two dollars to anti-racist organizations like UNCF and and others; the guys in the warehouse pick the organizations as they see fit."

That's all well and good, but common sense would dictate that someone who is knowingly peddling a racist or fascist recording would at least make a note of its nature to alert the uninformed. Retailers have a responsibility to their customers, and glaring oversights like these shirk that responsibility pretty damn hard. In an independent record store, there's an element of curation; one hopes that there is a team of employees there who care enough to ensure that the records they're selling aren't full of hateful rhetoric. Huge corporations like iTunes don't have that hands-on approach, and, well, this is what happens. For example, almost the entire Skrewdriver discography is up there, and there's no effort whatsoever made to conceal or obscure the band's standpoint. The first two lines of the bio on their Artist Info page reads, "Cultivating one of the scariest careers in the punk rock scene, Skrewdriver have become the proud poster boys for the racial-hate movement in the United Kingdom. They define the stereotypical image of skinheads, preaching the Aryan beliefs of the Nazis, while alternately making violent and visceral music for their fans to get angry about." Hankes also mentions the presence of absurdly racist recordings from The Bully Boys and Max Resist. If punk rock's not your thing, there's plenty of hate-spewing right-wing extreme metal all up in there. There's a whole Absurd compilation album featuring the band's founder, convicted murderer and Nazi hatemonger Hendrik Möbus. Have you got a hankering to listen to Kristallnacht's "Aryan Blood"? How about mixing it up with Adalruna's "Blood of the Aryan"? You could always sample and rate Bilskirnir's most popular track, "For Victory We Ride," or settle in with one of the seven Graveland albums on offer. They've got the entire Arghoslent discography, too, if you're more in the mood for death metal and songs like "Flogging the Cargo."


If you're not specifically looking for white power music, you won't find it, though, right? Surely the only people stumbling across these bands must've already been on the lookout, and those people are a lost cause? Unfortunately, that's not the case. One of Hankes' most chilling observations bears some serious consideration: "Built-in features such as iTunes’ “Listeners Also Bought” section help promote similar artists to those a shopper already listens to. For instance, a query for Skrewdriver in iTunes leads to suggestions that a shopper also purchase albums by Brutal Attack, Final War [ed note: Final War is actually an album by fascist skinhead band Young Blood], Bully Boys and other hate bands. What’s more, a shopper may be recommended a hate band after browsing the catalog of a non-racist hardcore or metal band, a type of exposure that has never before been so openly available for an insular music scene that has depended on word of mouth to gain popularity."

In short, iTunes is making it easier than ever for listeners to discover racist white power bands and others of their ilk. It makes you wonder—are they the only guilty party? As it turns out, not by a long shot. We took our examples, and went through every big online music retailer and streaming service we could think of to see just what might be lurking in the darkest corners of their catalogues. It wasn't pretty.

Spotify
Skrewdriver: NOPE—though they do have a shitload of solo recordings from Skrewdriver's late guitarist/vocalist Ian Stuart.
The Bully Boys: NOPE
Brutal Attack: NOPE
Max Resist: NOPE
Young Blood: YEP
Absurd: YEP
Kristallnacht: NOPE
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: YEP

Google Play
Skewdriver: YEP
The Bully Boys: YEP
Brutal Attack: YEP (as well as a Bully Boys/Brutal Attack split)
Max Resist: YEP
Young Blood: YEP
Absurd: YEP
Kristallnacht: YEP
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: YEP



Beats Music
Skewdriver: YEP
The Bully Boys: YEP
Brutal Attack: YEP
Max Resist: YEP
Young Blood: YEP
Absurd: NOPE
Kristallnacht: YEP
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: NOPE

Rdio
Skewdriver: NOPE—the band is listed, but there's no music available. You can listen to their Artist Radio, though, and the first track that comes up is "Trouble," by The Blue Eyed Devils, a totally innocuous blues band that unfortunately shares a name with a virulent racist skinhead band.
The Bully Boys: YEP

Brutal Attack: NOPE
Max Resist: YEP
Young Blood: YEP
Absurd: YEP—echoing iTunes, Rdio also recommends NSBM bands Gestapo 666, Spear of Longinus, Grand Belial's Key, and Satanic Warmaster, alongside Kristallnacht and Bilskirnir, which means...
Kristallnacht: YEP
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: YEP

Amazon​
Skewdriver: YEP
The Bully Boys: YEP
Brutal Attack: YEP (they've got the Bully Boys split, too)
Max Resist: YEP
Young Blood: YEP
Absurd: YEP
Kristallnacht: YEP
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: YEP

Pandora
Skewdriver: NOPE
The Bully Boys: NOPE
Brutal Attack: NOPE
Max Resist: NOPE
Young Blood: NOPE
Absurd: YEP
Kristallnacht: NOPE
Bilskirnir: NOPE
Arghoslent: NOPE

Rhapsody
Skewdriver: NOPE
The Bully Boys: YEP

Brutal Attack: YEP (there's that split again)
Max Resist: YEP
Young Blood: NOPE
Absurd: YEP
Kristallnacht: YEP
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: YEP

Grooveshark
Skewdriver: YEP
The Bully Boys: YEP

Brutal Attack: YEP (the split, again)
Max Resist: YEP
Young Blood: NOPE
Absurd: YEP
Kristallnacht: YEP
Bilskirnir: YEP
Arghoslent: YEP

As you may have noticed, there are a lot of repeat offenders here. Many of these retailers only offer one or two specific albums from these bands, which of course raises the question: How did they get there? Hankes notes that Micetrap Records, one of the biggest distributor of "racialist" music, had recently taken its operation offline, but a quick glance at their website seems to suggest otherwise—they've even rolled out a new line of Christmas-themed merchandise for the bigots in your backyard. We know how CD Baby feels about the whole thing, and it seems their stance hasn't changed; they still have a ton of Skrewdriver, as well as more Ian Stuart and records from The Bully Boys and bands like Chingford Attack, who boast racial slur-laden songs like "Dirty B Bastard" (guess what the "b" stands for). That's where that bizarrely ubiquitous Bully Boys/Brutal Attack split comes from, too. As far as the metal records go, trying to trace them back to one particular distribution source is nigh impossible, given the sheer number of small, independent distros and labels stocking them.

Now that we know all this, what's our next step? Do we petition these music providers to strengthen their policies on hate speak, or demand that they hire people to go through the ideological backgrounds of every band they stock in order to provide warning labels or disclaimers if it's deemed necessary? The PMRC tried that a few decades ago, and it didn't go down so well. One person's filth is another person's solace. As Sivers said, it's a slippery slope, and we don't have a solid answer to the question.

Now you know what's out there. What you chose to do with it is your decision.