“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."
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.
— ● Will Wiesenfeld ● (@BATHSmusic) June 2, 2020
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) June 2, 2020
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”.
fuck no first of all. the major release day is FRIDAYS. tuesdays not a big deal. no releases should come out at all for the week shit maybe for the month. and if they do, these companies need to pledge to giving the Black artists who release ALL THE MONEY MADE FROM IT. fuck it. https://t.co/S6lNSqvO4x
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) June 2, 2020
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.
We would love to know too. https://t.co/mniwXxpX61
— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) June 2, 2020
this is not helping us. bro who the hell thought of this?? ppl need to see what’s going on https://t.co/fN492qsxaa
— nope (@LilNasX) June 2, 2020
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”.
Are you joking https://t.co/oeEPWssyqW
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) June 1, 2020
Spotify does many billions of revenue every year, Ek is a billionaire himself, to "match employees" donations and do this kind of thing is hilariously empty, just shut up https://t.co/pI0s5T3xiT
— Jeremy D. Larson (@jeremydlarson) June 2, 2020
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 talks the talk, Bandcamp walks the walk pic.twitter.com/zTKMquDZCo
— Chris _ _ Richards (@Chris__Richards) June 2, 2020
Spotify has yet to comment on the negative response. Find more criticism below.
spotify removing all the white supremacist music on their platform and paying musicians a reasonable amount in royalties would be a far bigger statement than adding nine minutes of silence to ends of playlists 💀
— your wallet, open it (@SpookyAnarchist) June 2, 2020
Holy fucking shit, Spotify adds an 8:46 minute moment of silence to fucking piss all over poor black independent artists, using the time George Floyd died as a source of revenue, using the silence forced into us as a profit generator, this is one of the worst Corp. Tweets
— Coil Kid (@Coil_Kid) June 2, 2020
Symbolism is great but major companies gotta do better than this. Common folk are putting our bodies on the line, opening our pockets & purses, organizing with/for Black movements, or all of the above. So what else you got besides silence, @Spotify? https://t.co/vE03yaq74h
— 𝕻𝖗𝖎𝖓𝖈𝖊𝖘𝖘 𝕻𝖆𝖕𝖎 (F²) ✊🏾 (@fonzfranc) June 2, 2020
— amy elizabeth (@mimi_gx) June 2, 2020
There was a marketing meeting at Spotify where everybody pitched ways that the brand could engage with the news and the thing that won in the room was adding silence timed to match how long it took for a man to suffocate at the hands of a cop. Representation! https://t.co/f2t70bvsSG
— sweethearted peter (@nicefriend420) June 2, 2020