Music

“Hilariously Empty”: Spotify Criticised For Honouring George Floyd With 8.46 Moment Of Silence

"Symbolism is great but major companies gotta do better than this."

Spotify criticised for adding 'empty' moment of silence to platform as way of supporting Black Lives Matter movement

As part of a larger Black Out Tuesday movement from the music industry to show support for Black Lives Matter protests, Spotify has added an 8.46 moment of silence to playlists and their own podcasts — the amount of time that cop Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, killing him. The move has received widespread criticism on social media, as people question whether silence, not money, is the appropriate move.

As reported by The Verge, Spotify announced the decision via a public blog post announcing the moment of silence, as well as a plan to black out playlist images as well as promote black artists and podcasters more prominently. In Australia, a “Black Lives Matter” carousel sits on the app’s homepage, linking to both Indigenous Australian playlists — Blak Australia, Deadly Beats — as well as their biggest playlists, blacked out.

“June 2nd is Black Out Tuesday, a day of collective disconnect from work meant to help people reflect and come together in support of the Black community,” the company wrote. “On this day — and every day — Spotify will support our employees, friends, partners, artists, and creators in the fight against racism, injustice, and inequity.”

The company is also matching donations to Black Lives Matter funds and resources made from their employees. After The Verge tweeted out their report on Spotify’s actions, the streaming company was widely criticised by many, including several musicians and figures within the industry.

Kehlani and electronic musician Baths both asked Spotify to open its purse, instead of offering silence.

Kehlani also tweeted out why Spotify’s actions — and the Black Out Tuesday movement — doesn’t sit right with her in their current form.

“The music industry makes so much FUCKIN MONEY off Black people,” she wrote. “Black artists, Black listeners, Black supporters, these posts ain’t doing shit. BAIL YOUR LISTENERS OUT. put the money where your graphic designer fingers are at! y’all GOT IT”.

The criticism was echoed by Lil Nas X, who says the current black-out posts across Instagram do little to help protestors — if anything, thanks to the hijacking of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, they obscure vital information. Tegan and Sara and Jack Antonoff were also critical, asking where the donations are behind the industry’s statements.

It’s currently unclear whether Spotify’s silence’s potential streaming revenue would go towards any fund — pragmatically, it’s also extremely likely the majority of users won’t simply skip the silence.

Several high-profile music critics were also suspect of Spotify’s announcement. Pitchfork review editor Jermy D. Larson pointed out that Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek is a billionaire (estimated at US $2.4 billion this May), calling the company’s choice to match employees’ donations “hilariously empty”.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post‘s pop music critic Chris Richards contrasted Spotify’s response to Bandcamp’s, which announced an annual $30,000 fund towards racial justice organisations, as well as a regular commitment to donating 100 percent of their revenue from June 19 sales towards the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Spotify has yet to comment on the negative response. Find more criticism below.