Ukraine makes request to Spotify
Kiev has requested that Swedish audio streaming service Spotify remove songs by Russia-based artists who ‘support the war,’ the Ukrainian president’s Chief of Staff, Andrey Ermak, told the Times on Sunday. The country has been trying to limit Russian culture since the start of the military operation last February.
In March of last year, Spotify proclaimed its solidarity with Ukraine and announced that it had closed its office "indefinitely" and "restricted the discoverability of shows owned and operated by Russian state-affiliated media." The company added that it "took the additional step of removing all RT and Sputnik content from Spotify in the EU and other markets." In April, the company also suspended the availability of the service to users in Russia. However, they did not limit any Russian artists on the platform, which is what Ermak is asking now.
So far, Spotify has not removed any artists from its catalog, even when they are embroiled in controversy. The Swedish company did not ban US musician Kanye West (who legally changed his name to Ye) from the service even when multiple companies dropped partnerships with him due to his anti-Semitic remarks. American cult-leader and mass murderer Charles Manson also still has his songs available on Spotify.
Ukraine itself banned songs by Russian artists domestically last May, restricting their playtime in local media and public spaces. The ban did not include streaming services and a February study by Telegraf.com.ua showed that Russian songs were still some of the most played in Ukraine, although a bit less than last year.
Ukrainian culture minister Aleksandr Tkachenko asked Western states to boycott 19th century classic composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, in a December opinion piece in The Guardian. Tkachenko argued canceling venues for Russian artists by other European countries would be a "conscious step" for a "mature democratic society." However, this was not met with much support, as David Butcher, the chief executive of Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra, told The Guardian the same month that it wasn’t appropriate to "cancel, pause or self-censor, in our case, great music which deserves to be performed and heard."