Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube all found recently hosting racist music

An excerpt of a Hitler speech, calls for “Aryans” to make a brand new start and references to white power have all been found in songs on major music streaming services.

Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music have now removed racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic content from their services, following a BBC investigation.

Deezer was also made aware of similar songs, mostly linked to white supremacy, on its platforms.

It comes three years after Spotify tried to crackdown on a similar issue and updated its hate content policy.

It’s difficult to quantify the scale of the problem. However, the BBC investigation easily found at least 20 songs with disturbing content:

Searching out the music required no specialist skills or effort.

In some cases, racist titles of albums and songs had been changed to remove words such as ‘Aryan’ and ‘white’ but the lyrics remained the same.

Most examples were found on Spotify and in one case, a song on its platform contained these lyrics:

So wake from your bed, and raise your head

Aryan child, listen to what is said

So rise your hand and learn to love your land

For the white revolution needs your uncorrupted hand.

The BBC has decided not to name the bands or the songs in an effort not to assist people searching for hateful content.

Eric Ward, a civil rights strategist at the Western States Center, said people “trust streaming services” and didn’t use them “to be presented with hate music and hate lyrics”.

“The onus is on streaming platforms to do a better job at monitoring and searching for this music. They simply need to invest more.

“This is about the credibility of a company and a brand. Brands are important and white power music will damage your streaming brand.”

Eric Ward says streaming has made hate music “more accessible” with “algorithms suggesting this music to those who may not actually be searching for it”.

On Spotify, public playlists and “suggested artists” did make it easier for the BBC to find extreme content.

In some cases, users created playlists that collated songs and bands associated with the National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) movement.

The metal sub-genre largely comes from Eastern Europe and Russia. Anti-Semitism and glorification of the Holocaust is common in its lyrics, according to Nick Spooner, from anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate.

He said the metal community has been waking up to the presence of the NSBM and how the scene “has been allowed to fester within the wider metal scene”.

“The growth of the white power music scene in the 70s and 80s ran in parallel with a growth of fascist parties in the UK so there’s a big worry that could happen again.”

‘We understand that things will inevitably slip through the cracks.

But with great power comes great responsibility.

And streaming services have set themselves up to be the primary source of music.’

– Eric K Ward, civil rights strategist.

Music has been an integral part of neo-Nazi and white power movements since the 1980s.

The British-based Blood and Honour movement was spearheaded by a neo-nazi called Ian Stuart Donaldson, the lead singer of a band called Skrewdriver. He died in 1993.

The group didn’t start out with a racist agenda but Donaldson took them in that direction.

Many of the groups we found on streaming services idolise Skrewdriver and Donaldson in their songs.

Some of the bands – from the UK, US and Europe – have long been on the radar of civil rights and anti-hate campaign groups, and venues have been criticised in the past for allowing such groups to play gigs.

The streaming platforms can use a combination of technology and people to actively search for content – but also rely on customers reporting offensive material.

There are currently more than 65 million songs and over 1.5 million podcasts on Spotify.

In a statement, the company said the content flagged by the BBC clearly violated its policy.

It added: “Spotify prohibits content which expressly and principally advocates or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics (race, religion etc).”

It said it was “continuously developing, improving, and implementing monitoring technology that identifies content in our service that violates our policy, including but not limited to, content flagged as hate content.”

Apple Music said the company had hidden the majority of the tracks highlighted by the BBC, while the rest are still under investigation.

It also highlighted that it has “strong editorial guidelines that prohibit distributors and rights owners submitting content like this”.

In a statement, YouTube Music said: “Hate has no place on YouTube.

“We’ve worked hard to develop responsible guidelines to define and make clear what content is unacceptable or when artistic expression crosses the lines of safety. When content is flagged to us, we work quickly to remove videos that violate our policies.

“We’re committed to continuing our work on this issue to ensure YouTube is not a place for those who seek to do harm.”

Content on YouTube is less regulated than music platforms. But for videos to have adverts, it has to comply with terms and conditions.

Despite this, many of the bands and songs found on the music platforms are preceded by adverts for household brands including Cadbury’s and Uber.

Users must apply to be able to ‘monetise’ their videos, which allows them to earn money from advertisers – the more views, the more income.

According to YouTube’s rules, users can only earn money from adverts if they follow guidelines, including a ban on “hateful content”.

This is defined as anything that “incites hatred against, promotes discrimination, disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people” based on a list of characteristics that includes race, ethnicity and religion.

YouTube reviewers “regularly check to see if monetising channels follow these policies”.

Deezer has not commented at this stage but is looking into the issue.

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Why Nigerian protesters want Beyoncé to be more like Rihanna

Rihanna, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj are among the many celebrities who have come out to support protests against police brutality in Nigeria. But protesters hit out when Beyoncé spoke up. Why?

Protesters against police brutality say that on Tuesday night in Lagos men in army fatigues closed in on them and shot at them while they sang the national anthem, something the army denies as “fake news”.

The irony a chord across the world. South African comedian Trevor Noah said: “Just like we’ve seen in the US, the police in Nigeria are responding to protests about police brutality with more police brutality.

A host of international A-list of celebrities showed their support for protesters.

Rihanna tweeted a picture of a blood-soaked Nigerian flag.

Nikki Minaj talked directly to protesters in her tweet in solidarity, saying: “Your voice is being heard”.

And then Beyoncé’s statement came.

Through her charity, BeyGood, she said: “I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria… we are collaborating with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter.”

This did not go down well.

“Who told Beyoncé that we are hungry?” commented digital entrepreneur Papi Jay.

That sentiment was echoed by skincare vendor Mercy Ehimare. “Can somebody tell this woman we are not hungry??????? We need support to fight for our existence,” she replied.

Tweeters were offended that Beyoncé appeared to assume they were poor.

That certainly wasn’t how the Nigerian press described the people who started the protests online.

They opted instead to refer to them as “social media influencers”.

In the early days of the protests, the BBC’s Nduka Orjinmo described the people marching on the streets as “mostly comfortably-off young people, some with dyed hair, pierced noses and tattooed bodies”.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones notes that, while now she is now seeing a more socially mixed crowd at protests in Lagos, the people who started the protests online were “middle-class kids”.

They were people like media strategist Rinu Oduala, who had persuaded other protesters to spend the night outside government house in Lagos on 7 October.

What’s more, is that they had already raised funds among themselves to cover the costs of the protest, writes Nigerian author Naomi Ndifon, in Black Women Radicals.

So at this point, the protesters only really wanted their message against police brutality amplified.

Beyoncé has more than 15 million followers on her personal Twitter account – a tweet from that account would reach a lot of people.

But they were left frustrated, says a commenter on Beyoncé’s post dor_gd, who points out that she only supported protesters on her charity account.

Critics also said Beyoncé turned up late to the protests.

The protests had started weeks before and she was in the second wave of celebrities showing their support.

People like Star Wars actor John Boyega, Arsenal footballer Mesut Özil and rapper Kanye West had tweeted their support more than a week before her.

By the time she tweeted, the peaceful protests had already turned bloody.

Marge Champion: Actress who was model for Disneys Snow White dies at 101

Marge Champion, who served as the real-life model for Walt Disney’s Snow White, has died at the age of 101.

The actress was also well known for starring alongside her husband and dance partner Gower Champion in a string of MGM musicals in the 1950s.

She later won an Emmy Award for choreographing the 1975 TV film Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.

She died in Los Angeles on Wednesday, dance instructor Pierre Dulaine confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Marge and Gower Champion danced together in TV shows, Broadway musicals and films such as George Sidney’s 1951 remake of Show Boat, which also starred Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson and Ava Gardner.

The couple were also seen together in Mr Music (1950) starring Bing Crosby, Lovely to Look At (1952), Give a Girl a Break (1953) and Jupiter’s Darling (1955).

Marge Champion was born Marjorie Celeste Belcher in Hollywood in 1919. Her father was dance and ballet teacher Ernest Belcher, who was friends with Walt Disney.

When Disney’s animation team were working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they studied a young Marge’s movements on a sound stage in order to make the character move more realistically.

From the age of 14, Champion would work with them for one or two days per month for two years, during which time she was paid $10 per day.

“None of them [the all-male animation team] had been a young girl or knew how a dress would do this or that or the other thing,” she explained in a 1998 interview with the Archive of American Television.

Released in 1937, the groundbreaking film was the first full-length animated feature to be made by a US studio, and became a box office sensation.

Champion also served as a model for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia, and Mr Stock in Dumbo.

Gower and Marge Champion married in 1947, but divorced in 1973. Gower died in 1980 at the age of 61.

UK music industry urged to drop offensive term BAME

The British music industry should drop the “outdated and offensive” term BAME, the body representing record labels and musicians has urged.

A taskforce set up by UK Music said the widely-used term for black, Asian, and minority ethnic people was seen by many as “misleading and inappropriate”.

Taskforce chairman and record shop owner Ammo Talwar, described it as a “careless catch-all acronym”.

The move comes ahead of the launch of UK Music’s diversity study.

Published later this month, the report will outline the state of diversity in the industry, and publish a 10-point plan on how to make the scene more inclusive.

“There is now an unstoppable momentum for change at pace to rapidly improve diversity in the music business and across society,” Mr Talwar said in a statement.

“One key change we want to see is the end of the use of a term which is outdated and offensive to many people from black, Asian and other diverse communities.

“It is a term that is often used in reports and campaigns, but it’s not relevant in today’s modern music industry and jars with many in diverse communities.”

Mr Talwar added that he and many others now want to see the acronym “consigned to the dustbin of history”, and suggested the use of “more specific” language instead.

“It’s a key step on the path to an inclusive, welcoming culture that we all want to foster,” he continued.

“If there is a need to refer to people’s heritage, it is far better to use a word like ‘black’, ‘Asian’ or something more specific, rather than a careless catch-all acronym.”

There has been increased scrutiny of diversity in the music industry as in all areas of society following the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

In September, the newly-formed Black Music Coalition (BMC) set out its mission to “protect, promote and advance the interests and views of black professionals within the UK music industry”.

Its chair Sheryl Nwosu told the BBC on Thursday that the new organisation “fully supports” the end of the term BAME.

“Far too often, BAME initiatives have fallen short of understanding the specific needs or support that each ethnic group require,” said Ms Nwosu. “In fact, it has served to amalgamate those needs as if a blanket approach will suffice.

“We implore all companies to dig deeper and listen to the varied underrepresented groups within their business so that bespoke support and programs can be devised in order to truly establish equity for all across the industry.

“The BMC are working closely with music industry companies across the board to support further development for the betterment of black executives, and we look forward to seeing action taken from within these organisations as well as implementing these important directives from UK Music.”

UK Music’s members include the BPI, which represents record labels; the Musicians’ Union; the Music Publishers Association; rights body PRS For Music; and the UK Live Music Group.

BBC expands representation drive for expert contributors

The BBC is to expand a project aimed at getting more female contributors on air to encompass race and disability.

The 50:50 Project launched in 2017 in an attempt to make sure half of experts and other contributors were women.

It is now used by outlets ranging from The One Show to the BBC News Channel, Countryfile, Newsbeat and Radio 5 Live.

Now, the broadcaster has set a target for 20% of contributors to be black, Asian or from other minority ethnic backgrounds, and 12% to be disabled.

The BBC is also calling on other parts of the media to adopt the project, initially focusing on achieving a gender balance.

Director general Tim Davie said he was seeking “as wide a possible group of partners” to gather and publish data about the gender of their contributors next March.

“It’s really important that the storytelling comes from across the whole of society,” he said. “It’s not the preserve of one type of person.”

Media organisations including Australia’s ABC and the Financial Times have already signed up to The 50:50 Project.

“To me it’s utterly critical that we get women on air, that we seek out all of the talent from across our community,” Mr Davie added.

“We’ve felt it’s been so important in reshaping our output, but absolutely this is about the whole industry and making sure modern media companies are really connecting with everyone out there.”

The BBC said 66% of its outlets recorded 50% female contributors in March 2020, up from 34% when those teams started counting.

Nina Goswami, the BBC’s Creative Diversity Lead for 50:50, said: “When it comes to women’s representation, 50:50 enriches our storytelling with new voices and the data helps us think differently meaning we’re uncovering new stories.

“By applying 50:50’s core principles for disability and ethnicity representation we believe we can amplify a wider range of voices and discover more content that reflects our world. We’ve a long way to go but together it is achievable.”

Ed Sheeran gives personal items to Suffolk charity auction

Ed Sheeran has donated personal items including handwritten lyrics to his hit song Perfect to a charity auction.

It was organised with help from his parents to support youngsters in his home county of Suffolk, including redeveloping a playground in Ipswich.

Fans can also bid for his childhood Lego and a £3 ticket to his first ever gig in Framlingham.

David Beckham, Kylie Minogue and Usain Bolt also donated items to the online auction, which runs until 8 November.

The auction’s end date coincides with the final day of the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition, which tells the story of his rise to global stardom.

It opened at the Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, in the week leading up to Sheeran’s homecoming gigs last August.

The 29-year-old’s parents John and Imogen Sheeran wanted to create a lasting legacy from the exhibition.

Proceeds will help charity GeeWizz to redevelop a playground for children with special educational needs and disabilities at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy in Ipswich, estimated to cost up to £300,000.

Funds will also benefit the town’s St Elizabeth Hospice, which aims to help teenagers and young adults with incurable illnesses live their lives to the full.

John Sheeran said: “Imogen and I send our thanks to everyone who has organised, supported and donated to the auction.

“We cannot think of a better legacy for the exhibition to leave.”

Among the auction lots are guitars from John Mayer, Snow Patrol and Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley.

There is also a Rolling Stones gold disc and signed Pink Floyd memorabilia from drummer Nick Mason.

Michael Jackson: Court dismisses lawsuit from accuser James Safechuck

A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit from one of Michael Jackson’s accusers, who claimed Jackson’s companies allowed the star to abuse him and other children.

James Safechuck has said the singer started abusing him when he was 10.

In 2014, he sued MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, and has alleged they “were created to, and did, facilitate Jackson’s sexual abuse of children”.

But the judge dismissed the case, saying the companies didn’t have a duty of care for Mr Safechuck.

Mr Safechuck was one of two men who accused the late pop star of abuse in last year’s Leaving Neverland documentary.

In his lawsuit, he said Jackson abused him hundreds of times at his homes and on tour in the late 1980s and early 90s.

MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures were set up by Jackson to run his career. But in the lawsuit it was claimed: “The thinly-veiled, covert second purpose of these businesses was to operate as a child sexual abuse operation, specifically designed to locate, attract, lure and seduce child sexual abuse victims.”

Mr Safechuck also featured with Jackson in a Pepsi commercial and often appeared on stage with the singer.

Mr Safechuck’s lawyer Vince Finaldi told BBC News: “He was an employee that was working on behalf of them as a dancer and entertainer on the stage with Michael.

“Because he was a minor, and he was an employee working for them, they had a duty to protect him. That’s our argument.”

California judge Mark Young disagreed, saying the companies weren’t directly responsible for causing emotional distress, and were not able to control Jackson, because he controlled the companies and everyone they employed. Corporations cannot be direct perpetrators, he said.

Mr Safechuck, who is seeking unspecified damages, will appeal.

Jackson vehemently denied the abuse. Mr Safechuck (a child at the time) reportedly gave a witness statement defending Jackson when allegations against the singer first emerged in 1993.

Mr Finaldi is also representing Wade Robson, who appeared in Leaving Neverland too, in a separate lawsuit, which is expected to reach trial next summer.

Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed is reportedly making a sequel about the pair’s legal battles. Deadline reported on Wednesday that Jackson’s companies had taken legal action against the film-maker.

Jonathan Steinsapir, representing MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, declined to comment on the latest ruling.

David Starkey: Police end investigation into interview with Darren Grimes

Police have dropped their investigation into an interview in which historian Dr David Starkey made controversial comments about slavery.

Dr Starkey made the remarks on YouTube to conservative commentator Darren Grimes, who was also investigated.

The historian accused the police of a “misconceived, oppressive” attempt to curtail freedom of expression.

He has previously apologised for saying in June that slavery was not genocide because “so many damn blacks” survived.

“It was a serious error for which I have already paid a significant price,” he said last week.

“I did not, however, intend to stir up racial hatred and there was nothing about the circumstances of the broadcast which made it likely to do so.”

The Metropolitan Police opened the investigation at the end of September, almost three months after an allegation of a public order offence was passed to them by Durham Police.

Last week, the Met said a senior officer had been appointed to review the investigation.

In a statement on Wednesday, Cdr Paul Brogden said: “It is the duty of police to assess and, if appropriate, fully investigate alleged offences and the public would expect us to investigate an allegation of this nature.

“We conducted initial inquiries to establish the full circumstances and sought early advice from the CPS. Having had the opportunity to review this, it is no longer proportionate that this investigation continues.

“We have made direct contact with the individuals involved and updated them on this decision.”

In response, Dr Starkey said: “The investigation should never of course have begun. From the beginning it was misconceived, oppressive and designed to misuse the criminal law to curtail the proper freedom of expression and debate.

“This freedom is our birthright; and it is more important than ever at this critical juncture in our nation’s history.” The outcome was also “a personal vindication”, he added.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Grimes described it as a “vexatious charge” that had involved the “unprecedented use of the Public Order Act to regulate speech & debate”.

During the original discussion, Dr Starkey told Mr Grimes that slavery “was not genocide” because “otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or Britain would there? An awful lot of them survived.”

The subsequent outcry led Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam College, Canterbury Christ Church University, The Mary Rose Trust and publisher HarperCollins to cut ties with him.

But figures from former home secretary Sajid Javid to ex-Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald of River Glaven criticised the investigation into Mr Grimes as a threat to a free media.

Missing Bristol Banksy gorilla appears at auction

An early Banksy artwork which mysteriously disappeared from the wall of a Bristol community centre last month has been put up for auction.

Gorilla in a pink mask had been on the wall of the former North Bristol Social Club in Eastville since around 2001.

In 2011 the building’s owner painted over it thinking it was just graffiti.

It has now been revealed the 100kg (220lb) artwork was removed from the Jalalabad Islamic Centre by an art restoration company and is being sold.

Vans were spotted parked at the site in mid-September, prompting speculation the familiar landmark was being restored.

Now, more than a month since it went missing, street art restoration company Exposed Walls has revealed it was given permission to remove it by the centre.

The centre’s owner, Saeed Ahmed, said he wants to raise funds to restore the 100-year-old building and give “money back to local charities in the Bristol area”.

“The reason for selling is because the building is falling to pieces and we wanted to safeguard the piece,” he said.

“But I do miss it. We used to have lots of people coming to look at it and now people come and see it’s gone.”

The 1.5m by 0.8m “aerosol on concrete” mural, depicts a gorilla holding up a pink masquerade mask.

Wayne Rock, from Exposed Walls, said it had been a “challenge” to remove it.

“It took four or five days to remove it. We had to create a hole and come from behind so that it didn’t break and we could release it,” he said.

“It’s been damaged with paint and has had a little bit of light restoration but it is brilliant.”

Also known as Glitter Gorilla, the piece is being sold online with the auction ending on 17 November.

The Chop: Sky pulls TV woodwork show over contestants tattoos

A TV contest for carpenters has been pulled from Sky schedules over concerns about one of its contestant’s tattoos.

One participant, Darren Lumsden, was accused of having a Nazi symbol on his face after the Sky History channel posted a clip from the show online.

The channel initially said the tattoos had “no political or ideological meaning whatsoever”.

However it then said it would not air the programme until it had investigated their “nature and meaning”.

The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker, hosted by Lee Mack and Rick Edwards, began on Thursday, with the second episode due to be aired this Thursday.

The series sees 10 contestants compete over nine weeks of carpentry challenges.

In the promotional clip, Mr Lumsden, from North Somerset, is seen with the number 88 inked on his cheek. As H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, the number can be used by white supremacists as numerical code for “Heil Hitler”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sky History said his tattoos denoted “significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever”. It said the number 88 on Mr Lumsden’s cheek referred to 1988, the year of his father’s death.

Viewers also raised concerns about some of his other markings, claiming they included other numerals that could be associated with white supremacist slogans.

Irish historian Elizabeth Boyle wrote on Twitter that she could see at least five potential Nazi and white power tattoos on his face.

In its initial statement, the channel said producers had carried out “extensive background checks” on all contestants and “confirmed Darren has no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments”. It added: “Any use of symbols or numbers is entirely incidental and not meant to cause harm or offence.”

However, that statement was deleted and a separate announcement said: “While we further investigate the nature, and meaning, of Darren’s tattoos, we have removed the video featuring him from our social media pages, and will not be broadcasting any episodes of The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker until we have concluded that investigation.

“Sky History stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”

Mr Lumsden has not responded to BBC requests for comment. Speaking to the Bristol Post about his tattoos in an article published on Monday, before the furore erupted, he said: “I have my daughter on the back of my head and my son on my cheek.

“When some people first meet me they are a bit shocked, admittedly. But they soon warm to me after a few minutes.”