Musicians Drag Spotify CEO For Funding Military AI Firm


Publishing Spotify Wrapped playlists has become an annual end-of-year tradition on social media, and in many ways the shareable listening stats are symbolic of the streaming platform’s dominance over the world. music industry.

But some artists have been less enthusiastic this year after the recent announcement that Spotify CEO invested $ 113 million to Helsing AI, a military defense company that complaints to use algorithmic systems that “integrate infrared, video, sonar and radio frequency data gleaned from sensors on military vehicles to create a real-time image of battlefields”.

This decision prompted some artists to call for boycott and bristled at the idea that the company’s ongoing profits would be used to fund military technology. Some are even offer free or discounted music on the competing platform Bandcamp in exchange for proof that people have canceled their Spotify subscriptions.

“His actions prove once again that Ek sees Spotify and the wealth he has plundered from artists simply as a way to increase his own wealth,” wrote Zack Nestel-Patt, an organizer of the Union of Musicians and Assimilated Workers (UMAW), in a statement emailed to Motherboard. Nestel-Patt added that Spotify has created software and AI that has eroded the music industry and is now investing in similar technology that needs to be applied on “battlefields” in order to, as the website notes. of Helsing, “to serve our democracies”.

The funding comes from the investment company of Ek Raw material, which last year earmarked $ 1.2 billion for investments in European technology companies.

As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down concert halls last year, activists launched several campaigns to help struggling artists and demanding that streaming platforms give them a fair share of their growing profits. UMAW’s “Justice to Spotify” appeals to society increase revenue share to $ 0.01 per stream and increase transparency. Fight for the future too started a petition after Spotify deposited a patent for technology designed to listen to what users say and use emotional data to target ads.

While all music streaming platforms are all known for the tiny royalties they give to independent artists, Spotify is a frequent target of criticism due to its importance in the space. Critics criticized the platform for its particularly stingy payments and algorithm payment systems to play, which, according to them, favors the big labels while exploiting the small artists.

Ultimately though, the problem is not with Spotify itself but with the core streaming business model, which is designed to collect user data while also profiting from the work of artists. And for many labels and musicians, removing their work from the big streaming platforms is just not possible, no matter how shady they can be.

“It was bad enough when the CEOs of major record companies were the gatekeepers of the music industry exploiting artists for our work,” Evan Greer, musician and deputy director of Fight For The Future, told Motherboard. “Big Tech CEOs who are actively building a dystopian surveillance-driven future are even worse. “



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