Have you listened to a Spotify playlist recently and found that some of the songs are greyed out and don’t play? That’s because the track has been removed. Artists (or more usually their record labels) sometimes decide to pull their content from Spotify and other streaming services. This might be unintentional (for example, because a publishing deal expires), but more often than not it’s due to the band’s label deciding to pull the plug. Whether this leads to increased CD sales or increased illegal downloads and bad-will towards the band is up to you to decide. I’ve built up a lot of Spotify playlists over the past year or so: finding holes appear in them is disheartening as I’m always keen to ensure my playlists work as a whole. I try to treat each one as an album in its own right and order songs so that the playlist flows.
You can check the Pansentient League’s Spotify Removals page for an on-going list, but here are some of bands I’ve used in playlists over the past year whose tracks have now gone AWOL.
Arcade Fire’s superb Funeral album used to be on Spotify, but it was pulled about a year ago now and never came back. This upset a lot of people: it was very popular and frequently makes it into lists of “my top albums of the decade.” I don’t think their follow-up album Neon Bible ever made it onto Spotify either, at least not in the UK. So it’s been some time since I’ve heard Arcade Fire. Are those guys still together?
Hanzel Und Gretyl
This industrial-metal band may not be to everyone’s taste, but they filled a hole made by Rammstein‘s no-show on Spotify. For a while at least: their albums were on Spotify for about six months before they were all pulled by Metropolis Records (see below). I particularly miss their bonkers Über Alles album – described by the band as “a futuristic Wagnerian rock opera” this album would be a perfect fit for the Iron Sky soundtrack. It was a great example of how hardcore Germanic electro-metal could also have a healthy sense of fun. UPDATE: They’re back on Spotify!
KMFDM have been releasing their special blend of electro-metal since 1984. I love these guys: I’ve bought pretty much every CD they’ve ever release, no mean feat considering they’ve released around 17 albums and countless CD singles. I was delighted when Metropolis Records brought a fair amount of these to Spotify. But back in April they all vanished, along with 90% of the rest of the Metropolis releases. I was devastated, I contacted Metropolis to find out what was going on and was told is was unintentional and due to a “server switchover.” UPDATE: KMFDM are back on Spotify!
The All Seeing I
You might remember these guys: they had several Top 10 hits in the late 90s with singles featuring guest vocals from the likes of Tony Christie, Phil Oakey, and Jarvis Cocker. They only ever released one album (Pickled Eggs And Sherbet) but it was a blinder. I bought the CD of course, but it was more convenient to listen to it on Spotify and I’d used tracks in several playlists. It’s gone from Spotify now but there is some recompense: Dean Honer, the main man behind The All Seeing I is also half of I Monster – a band whose second album became my favourite release in 2009 and is thankfully on Spotify.
Finally La Roux, the great red hope of modern electropop who stormed the charts last year and announced to the world that synthpop was back big-time. When Bulletproof topped the UK singles charts there was a big fat smile on my face for weeks. And they seemed to be especially Spotify-friendly too: an exclusive Spotify Session EP showed up containing three live tracks, including one song that couldn’t be heard anywhere else. The album came out in July and it wasn’t long before that too was on Spotify. I played it loads, and given that it reached number 2 in the UK album charts I’m sure many thousands of other Spotify listeners did too. But then Polydor removed it. At first it seemed that it had only gone from the free version but it was missing for Premium users too. Then it reappeared but on Premium only. Then it went again completely, never to return. Spotify blamed “a lot of miscommunication” for this yoyo-ing but the end result was that Spotify users were denied the chance to hear this album. Of course I was especially disheartened, I’d spent a lot of time promoting the “La Roux on Spotify” cause.
It’s hard not to blame the artist when their content is removed from Spotify. I know that they’re probably not even aware of it in many cases. The old temptation to sneak off to a torrent site is often the first thought that comes to mind when I find an album has gone AWOL. Serves them right for pulling their album! But then I calm down and sadly shake my head and lament the fact that I won’t be hearing this band again. Shame, I quite liked ’em.