White Supremacists on Spotify
As Apple moves to ditch so-called 'white power' groups from iTunes, other online retailers are dragging their feet to remove the hate music.
“Your freedom has been taken away/ you’re not allowed to speak your mind
Just cuz you won’t mix your race / and wanna keep to your own kind
You are loyal to the cause / why can’t the traitors see?
One day you’ll stand up tall and proud/ and hail victory.”
These are lyrics from the song “Loyal to the Cause,” by Broadsword, one of the so-called 'white power' bands whose music is currently available for purchase on iTunes. In a recent investigation, the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center spotlighted the recent revival of the hate music industry thanks to online retailers, listing 52 'white power' bands whose songs are sold on iTunes. This week, in response to the report, Apple removed 30 of those groups from their music service. As of Wednesday, the organization confirmed, 23 bands were still standing—including Broadsword.
While the production and sale of 'white power' music is nowhere near the multimillion dollar industry that bloomed in the 1990s, as the SPLC wrote in its report, “iTunes is providing a new and unprecedented tool to effectively distribute hate music, and with it the ideology required to recruit new supporters.”
But iTunes isn’t the only music service culpable. In a press release announcing Apple’s changes, the SPLC noted that other companies like Amazon and Spotify did not jump as quickly to absolve themselves of hate-based music. The SPLC also provided Spotify with a list of white pride music currently available on its site, but a spokesperson for the organization told The Daily Beast that Spotify had yet to remove any of it.
Among the SPLC-listed bands on Spotify is Arghoslent, a death metal group known for its racist and anti-Semitic lyrics and whose past and present members (according to Wikipedia) have gone by such names as “Pogrom,” “Holocausto,” “The Genocider,” and “Gravedigger.” There are offers 16 Arghoslent songs on Spotify, the most popular is “Bloody Mary.”
“Killing for Christianity/ Queen’s throne of blood
Follow her godly faith/ or be destroyed by her hand in painful misery
Watch her victims risen/ Like the Mongols genocide
Convert old faith or be erased ”
In an emailed statement to the The Daily Beast, a Spotify spokesperson said:
“We take this very seriously. Content (artists and music) listed by the BPjM in Germany (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien/Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons) is proactively removed from our service. We’re a global company, so we use the BPjM index as a global standard for these issues. Other potentially hateful or objectionable content that is flagged by uses or others but not on the BPjM list is handled on a case by case basis.”
The BPjM that Spotify was referring to, or Germany’s Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, is tasked with identifying and indexing all types of media, from literature and films to video games and websites, that may be considered harmful to young people. Media deemed to encourage hatred and discrimination, trivialize violence, or glorify war, among other things, is banned from legal consumption by minors.
With the strict media laws in Germany and other European countries managing to prevent 'white power' bands from success, or at least making it into the mainstream, the SPLC’s report notes that it was America's free speech protections of U.S. that allowed the racist music industry to thrive here in the 90s. In addition to being a once-hugely profitable business, hate music has long served as a highly effective recruiting tool for the movements whose messages it espouses.
The power of this phenomenon grabbed the mainstream media’s attention two years ago when it was revealed that Wade Page, the white supremacist who killed six people in a shooting rampage at a Wisconsin Sikh temple, played guitar and bass in a number of 'white power' bands.
“It is one of the pillars of the white supremacist subculture,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Mark Pitcavage said of so-called “Hatecore” music in an interview with The New York Times at the time. “The message can motivate people to action, cause them to be proud of themselves and their cause. It can aggravate anger levels. It can rouse resentment.”
The hate music industry’s heyday may be over. But while record sales have long been waning, the vast and easily-accessible world of online music sharing has provided this particular genre with something it may value more than money: influence.