In a business where constant improvement is necessary for success, Spotify has created a new feature allowing users to mute artists whose music they don’t want to hear. Whether this stemmed from a response to controversy surrounding certain musicians or is just a general feature to enhance a user’s music experience, this looks like a win-win for Spotify.
This new feature is called, “don’t play this artist,” and it is currently being tested by Spotify. Essentially, a user can select an artist they do not want to hear and apply the mute feature to that artist. Once this is done, that artist’s songs will not appear in playlists, personal libraries, chart lists or any Spotify radio station for that user. The only exception is the mute will not apply to other artist’s songs that the muted artist is featured in.
To use this feature, the user must first search the artist they wish to mute. Once the artist is found, in the top right corner of the display there will be a “…” icon. Tapping on that icon will bring a menu to the screen, and listed on that menu is the “don’t play this artist” feature.
This new feature seems to stem from two different things. First, R. Kelly has certainly stirred up a great deal of outrage due to the recent docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly.” Having revealed horrible true accounts of Kelly’s sexual misconduct against minors, people have begun boycotting his music and involvement in other music.
Even other music artists in the business have denounced Kelly and separated themselves from him by ending the sale of any music they collaborated on with him. The hashtag, “MuteRKelly” has been going around as a form of protest against a musical artist that certainly doesn’t deserve to be in the public light any longer.
This new mute feature from Spotify could be a way of allowing people to protest against artists like Kelly. He isn’t the only artist out there who has caused outrage and controversy.
Prior to this, rap artist XXXTentacion was blocked from appearing in any of Spotify’s public playlists when Spotify deemed his music contained hate conduct and content. Later they deemed that the “language was vague and left too many elements open to interpretation.” (USA Today) XXXTentacion was also found guilty of aggravated assault against his pregnant girlfriend in October. 2016, which was more controversy that didn’t help
Spotify’s strategy may be to allow users to decide who deserves to be recognized and who doesn’t. Musical artists don’t seem to shy away from controversy and because of this, Spotify could be trying to stay out of the argument. Prior to this, Spotify actually deleted the music of XXXTentacion and R. Kelly for similar reasons and in return, Spotify received a good amount of outrage from some of their listeners. This new mute feature could be a way to please everyone because now people have the choice to listen to an artist or not.
The second idea this new feature comes from is that Spotify is simply trying to improve its product. This new addition puts more power in the hands of the users.
When it comes to something as personal as music, people like to wield as much power as they can, rightfully so. This new mute feature is just one more way for people to create a more personalized and custom library that truly reflects the music that they enjoy and want to listen to.
No matter the reasoning, Spotify is making a good decision by allowing people to mute any artist they please. Putting more power in the hands of their customers, whether because of controversial reasons or not, users can then decide who they want to hear or not in a way that no one has ever really gotten to before. This is a great move by Spotify, and I have a feeling other music services like Apple Music will soon follow in their footsteps.