Friday, May 11, 2018

Spotify removing artists from their algorithmic playlists ruins the point

In recent news, Spotify has decided to remove R. Kelly and others from their editorial and algorithmic playlists, due to a new "hateful content and conduct" policy. Like any situation where a company decides to enter the social realm and take a stance on something, it has people all over the spectrum up in arms about it.

I'm one of those folks, but I'm arguing about their algorithmic playlists. I posted a loose comment about this on Reddit yesterday, and it seems that a decent amount of people agree:
I'm generally not a fan of when companies start taking social stances on things, to begin with, mostly because it opens up a slippery slope and it can affect the amount of revenue generated. I'm not a huge fan of the SJW movement happening over in Silicon Valley and California in general, and I can't help but think that Spotify's actions are just a bunch of triggered folks that cried out internally for the company to take some kind of stance.

The whole point of using algorithms to generate playlists with the music the user will tend to like is just that: recommending music based on user taste. Spotify exerting editorial control over the algorithmic playlists drives a wedge into what they are designed to do. If they want human influence over music suggestions perhaps using an algorithm in the first place wasn't the right choice.

For what it's worth, I don't listen to R. Kelly's music (I only know of him because he was referenced in Since Way Back by Drake feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR) nor any of the other artists that Spotify is deciding to remove from their recommendations. I am also not a subscriber to their premium service, and I probably never will be. Why would I pay money to a company that wants editorial control over what music they recommend to people?

And another thing: Spotify didn't say anything about censoring Chris Brown, who arguably has a dark past with his domestic abuse with Rihanna. Spotify opened themselves up to a slippery slope by plucking out artists that they don't like, but they won't be consistent with their policy. They also won't remove the handful of other famous artists in history who've had dark pasts involving underage women and abuse.