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Artists urge Spotify users to cancel subscriptions after CEO invests in AI defence technology

01 December 2021, 13:11 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

Artists are encouraging Spotify users to review their subscriptions and move away from the streaming platform after CEO Daniel Ek announced his investment in artificial intelligence defence technology last month.

Last month Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced his €100 million investment in AI defence technology company Helsing - a British-German company that has sold technology to the British, German and French militaries.

As Resident Advisor reports, on top of the investment, Ek will join Helsing's board, and Helsing's AI technology will be used for "defence and national security", and will "support militaries in battlefield assessment operations," according to Mixmag.

Following Ek's investment, artists have criticised the move, and are encouraging Spotify users to cancel their subscriptions and move away from the streaming giant using the #BoycottSpotify hashtag.

Composer and producer Darren Sangita wrote on Twitter, "#BoycottSPOTIFY now! Cancel your subscription today. Artists and music lovers must not support the military #AI industry! Register your anger at the #Spotify involvement in sponsorship of Arms Corporations. This is so vile. Music is NOT War! Just wrong on every level."

Speaking to Resident Advisor, Sangita added, "AI means using computers to process information a hundred times faster so they accurately deliver a higher kill ratio. Music is being used as a weapon. I can't sign up to that, so I've already unsubscribed and now plan to take all my music down from Spotify [...] We believe in music as a powerful tool for peace, otherwise it's a complete contradiction of our music philosophy."

RA also reported that when looking at the replies on Ek's announcement about his investment, 80% of the people responding were unhappy with the decision, and 95% of retweets about the news was negative.

Brooklyn-based jazz musician and composer Sameer Gupta also responded to the news on Twitter, encouraging Spotify users to cancel their subscription by offering a 95% discount on his Bandcamp discography.

He told RA, "This has been a long time coming anyway but the Spotify CEO's desire to invest in war AI tech was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back."

Daniel Ek is yet to respond to artists and users boycotting Spotify.
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