Australian musicians and songwriters have piled on right wing politician Cory Bernardi for including their songs on a public Spotify playlist to mark Australia Day next week.
Bernardi, the leader of Australian Conservatives, and the sole federal parliamentarian in the party, launched the playlist this week in response to Australia's youth broadcaster Triple J moving its Hottest 100 broadcast from Australia Day to the fourth weekend in January.
Triple J moved the date after a campaign to shift the popular event away from January 26, the date that marks the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia, and a day that causes many Indigenous Australians great sorrow.
Dubbed the "AC100", the Australian Conservatives linked to a Spotify playlist and asked people to vote.
When Darren Hayes found out a song from his band Savage Garden had been included, he expressed his displeasure.
Hayes pointed out that while anyone can make or listen to a playlist on Spotify, a political party creating a playlist can imply endorsement by the artist.
"If you are a political party, you can’t compile a playlist of songs that espouse your platform, name it after your party, promote it from your political websites and social media, then pretend you are not politicizing the artists involved. You are and you’re doing it without our permission," he wrote.
Since then, other artists have made it clear they don't want to be included in the list.
Men At Work's Colin Hay said Bernardi missed the point of the lyrics to Down Under.
And suggested Bernardi take drugs.
Cold Chisel front man Jimmy Barnes was, uhh, blunt.
And so was Hilltop Hoods.
And The Temper Trap.
Mick Thomas, the singer-songwriter from Wedding, Parties, Anything, said on Facebook he was a proud "card-carrying member of what [Bernardi] and your dogged bunch would describe as the LOONEY LEFT.
"I order you to desist. The royalty we would make of the paltry few spins would be miserable anyway so why don’t you just leave my song the fuck alone. Turd."
Then Spotify got dragged into the debate. Australian Conservatives subsequently claimed that Spotify had removed the playlist, but at the time of publishing it was still up.
Spotify confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the playlist wasn't "banned", just that a cover image, one bearing a logo similar to that of Triple J, was removed.
"We have investigated reports of a playlist being removed from our service and have concluded that these reports are incorrect," a spokesperson said in a statement.
"The playlist in question has always been available for listening; however, what was in fact removed was the title and/or image for the playlist created by the user. This action was an automated response addressing user complaints about the playlist."
Bernardi, who has previously said any business should be allowed to discriminate when it comes to, say, same-sex weddings, has now complained about the artists not wanting their songs to be included on his playlist, and about apparent censorship by Spotify.
"I just think we are living in a very dangerous time, and that's why I will not buckle and fold on this," he told 2GB.
"The idea that we live in this totalitarian society now where these same glorious artists ... can tell the rest of us what we are allowed to enjoy is incredible."
The playlist was created under the Australian Conservatives username, and according to Spotify's terms and conditions, it would be considered a "brand". The terms and conditions make it clear that brands must seek permission from the artist before including them in playlists that might appear to be an endorsement.
Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Josh Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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