Spotify has become one of the most respected and renowned music streaming platforms in the world, due in part because of its gigantic and diverse library of songs.
However, some users have noticed that some songs that were once part of this incredible library have been removed.
In this article, we take a look at why exactly Spotify will remove a song and explain the likely causes.
1. Spotify has Removed a Song due to the Detection of Artificial Steaming
In order for artists to make money from the music that they create, the tracks in question must get listened to. Royalties are earned by musicians each time their song is streamed on a music streaming platform and, over time, the more a song is streamed, the more popular it becomes.
Spotify uses algorithms to track the popularity of songs and the number of times a song is listened to. The number of listens does not only equate to more financial gain for the artist, but it also means that the track in question will be featured more across the platform.
Popular tracks in certain genres may find themselves in featured playlists and may turn up in a user’s ‘Discover Weekly’.
Marketing and promoting tracks is a key factor that every artist needs to consider and pursue if they want to build a fanbase of listeners on Spotify.
However, Spotify has specific rules in regard to how a song can gain traction on its platform. If a marketing technique breaks Spotify’s terms of service, the songs using that technique or tool can be at risk of being removed from the platform entirely.
Most artists want to play by the rules and merely wish to promote their songs in order for their music to become successful. However, although there are many promoters who promise to do just that, the way they go about it may not be as honest as the musician hopes.
ArisTake.com explains the difficulties facing musicians and how promoting services can cause serious problems:
“There are countless services out there that claim to help you boost your streams. Most services make it look legit (“We don’t use bots! We only pitch your music to real playlist curators!”). (…) These services are, by and large, against Spotify’s terms of service. So avoid them like the plague!”
Some promoters and services will use ‘bots’ to generate listens on Spotify. These are, of course, not real human listeners, and, as such, Spotify does not allow this type of promotion of tracks as it skews their algorithms and creates an unfair advantage that is not representative of public appreciation for an artist’s music.
It is for this reason that Spotify has taken it upon itself to remove thousands of songs from artists that have songs that have been promoted by ‘bot listeners’.
2. The Artist has Asked for their Songs to be Removed from Spotify
An artist can decide to remove their content from Spotify for a variety of reasons, and this will result in users no longer having access to the songs that they once enjoyed on the platform.
There have been a few criticisms leveled at Spotify over the years, and this has in turn, resulted in certain artists pulling their tracks off Spotify.
One major issue that has plagued less established artists is the lack of financial gain. Music streaming platforms have specific royalty models that are used to pay artists for the amount their songs are listened to.
However, this does not always balance against the money an artist needs to pay a distributor to have their songs available on a platform such as Spotify.
If an artist does not find that having their music on Spotify is financially viable, they may choose to have their songs removed in order to save money.
3. An Artist may Not Agree with Spotify’s Ethos and will remove their music
Money is not the only reason an artist will ask to have their music removed from Spotify.
Some artists are not always happy with how a company such as Spotify conducts itself. For example, there are artists who have had problems with the content that is currently also being hosted on Spotify’s platform.
A notable case is, of course, the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Artists such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell decided to remove their music because of views expressed on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Spotify decided to allow the podcast to still be available from their library. There was much backlash and public pressure for them to remove it, so these artists decided to pull their music in protest.
Despite the controversy surrounding Joe Rogan’s podcast, there are many artists and listeners who are unaffected by Spotify’s decision to keep the Joe Rogan Experience on the platform.
Spotify has labeled the podcast, along with content from other creators, with a ‘content advisory’ to alert potential listeners that the views expressed may not be suitable for all audiences.
So, from time to time, artists themselves may choose to remove their own songs as a way of protesting content or practices that they find harmful or problematic
4. Spotify will Remove Songs that Contain Extremist Content
Spotify launched the ‘Spotify Safety Advisory Council’ in June 2022 in order to tackle content that goes against the policies that Spotify has employed to protect its users from harmful exposure to tracks or podcasts that promote extremism.
Hate content has become a serious issue on the internet, and companies such as Spotify, who provide content over the internet, have come under pressure to act and prevent hate content from spreading.
As of 2022, it was reported that Spotify had removed thousands of playlists, podcasts, and hundreds of tracks that broke their rules and policies in regard to extremism and hate content.
By using both algorithms and human investigation, Spotify has made a promise to ensure that content, including songs, is removed from its library if it is considered to be in violation of its policies regarding hate speech.
You can take a detailed look at these policies on Spotify’s policy page. If an artist that you have been listening to has broken these rules, then the chances are that they will have had their tracks removed for this reason.
5. The Song has been Removed because Spotify No Longer has the License
Licensing agreements have to be made by the artist and their label in order for the song in question to be available on Spotify.
Sometimes ownership of a song can change, or new agreements are created between the artist and their label that prevents Spotify from having the rights to keep the song in their library.
Spotify will likely try to secure the rights to songs that they once had, but negotiations may need to take place first.
However, sometimes the right to have the song on Spotify cannot be retained, and, in that case, Spotify will have no choice but to remove the song from their library.
Additionally, some songs are only licensed in specific countries. If you are in a region or country in which that song is not licensed for distribution on Spotify, then it will no longer be available for you to play.
To get around this situation, a user will need to return to the country where the song is available or use a VPN to bypass the issue.