The business models of big tech companies are based on surveillance and are fundamentally incompatible with basic human rights and democracy. Spotify likes to present itself as hip, progressive, and artist-friendly, but its winning model is based on collecting our data, monitoring emotions, and using our behavioral profiles to enrich advertisers. The company recently filed a patent for a product that literally monitors listeners’ speech patterns and tone of voice to recommend music (and, of course, advertisements). Music should be about connection and collective experience, not surveillance and exploitation.
The internet has the potential to profoundly change our society for the better. As a trans-artist playing way outside the mainstream, I’ve seen how technology has the power to raise marginalized voices and promote community and solidarity among musicians, as we do in organizing efforts like the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers and seen their “Justice on Spotify” campaign. However, if we allow a parasitic business model based on surveillance and manipulation to dominate the music industry, it is clear that this serves to undo existing forms of injustice in an industry that has long been plagued by systemic white supremacy, patriarchy and patriarchy becomes, simply to reinforce and exacerbate heterosexism.
I titled the album Spotify Is Surveillance, not because every single song is a shame about surveillance capitalism or current politics, but because it’s a way to address those issues every time someone clicks play, even if they are is just a love song or a song about the lack of evidence.