Spotify ditches the term ‘urban music’ after concerns from black stars that the term is antiquated
- Urban music was used as an umbrella term for a variety of musical sub-genres
- Some black artists and experts say the phrase perpetuated racial stereotypes
- Spotify is now ditching the term in the UK and will instead use the names of each genre it used to cover
Spotify has stopped using the phrase ‘urban music’ in the UK after complaints from artists and experts that the term was antiquated.
Urban was first used as an umbrella term to describe various sub-genres of music, including rap and R&B.
However following the movement for equality and a push to eradicate systemic racism, the phrase was criticised.
Some black artists say the phrase perpetuates racial stereotypes and ‘strips away the actual blackness’ of black music.
Spotify has stopped using the phrase ‘urban music’ after complaints from artists and experts that the term was antiquated. Urban was first used as an umbrella term to describe various sub-genres of music (file)
Safiya Lambie-Knight, Spotify UK’s artist and label partnerships lead, gave an interview with Music Week on the topic.
She said: ‘Moving forward, we won’t be using the word “urban” in the UK anymore.
‘I look after a breadth of what were previously “urban” genres and it will allow us to have broader conversations around creativity and artists.
‘Honestly, I think there are bigger problems that we need to resolve, but we will be talking about music in genres going forward.’
Ms Lambi-Night’s full job title now features all the genres of music she oversees, and does away with the word ‘urban’.
Instead, it now includes hip hop, rap, grime, drill, R&B, afrobeat, reggae and dancehall.
The move away from urban is being discussed at various record labels, with Republic Records, Ariana Grande’s label, calling it ‘antiquated’ and vowing to ditch it.
However, parent company Universal Music, only says it is reviewing its policy on the phrase.
Some black artists say the phrase ‘urban music’ perpetuates racial stereotypes and ‘strips away the actual blackness’ of black music. Spotify has decided to stop using the term
Adele White, a senior manager within the urban division, told Music Week: ‘There is a conversation going on internally.’
She said: ‘In the UK, it’s been used as a PC term for black for people that felt uncomfortable. I think people feel it’s stigmatised.
‘People may feel that urban isn’t given the same respect in the UK or, I don’t know, not treated the same.
‘Maybe we don’t need it as much, but I know it’s important in other territories.
‘If we’re working with black artists, there’s nothing wrong with saying that, in the same way there’s nothing wrong with saying dance or indie,’ she added.
‘”Black” isn’t a bad word, to specialise in music that comes from a diaspora of people that you may understand better for whatever reason.
‘Black music has always existed and there’s nothing wrong with saying “black music” or “music by black artists”, it’s positive.’