Do not listen to the music or the man

Kanye West’s most recent antisemitic comments have cost him his corporate empire and perhaps his musical career. It might seem acceptable to still listen to an artist’s music as long as you don’t support the artist themself. This idea sounds delightful in theory but it is hard to see how it could be carried out. The support for an artist consists of actively helping them profit, whether it is subscribing to their platforms, streaming their music, or buying their products. 

In this case, West said something that is hurtful to Jewish people. Many of his fans do not condone his actions and are looking for a way to keep streaming his music without supporting him. The issue is that there is no way that a fan could listen to an artist’s song without them profiting from it. Platforms such as Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music give creators money for their streams. Unless the platforms themselves impose penalties for West’s actions, the separation of music and the artist, when put into practice, seems impossible. 

Even if platforms were able to penalize artists when they encourage discriminatory language, it is still hard to quantify how that will happen. Platforms will need to come up with a set definition of guidelines to follow during an artist’s professional and personal life. Then, they have to have these changes approved and inform everyone posting content on their platform. The last step would be where problems begin to seep in. How much profit can the platform legally hold? All these changes of procedures are costly and can damage professional connections, so the hassle is not worth it. This, of course, reinforces that the most efficient way to separate profit from the artist is for fans to stop streaming his music completely. 

It might seem like wearing Kanye branded items purchased before the incident would be okay, but that reality is also difficult. Instead of using merch in public, change it  for at home or cleaning attire. This may seem very extreme but there is one thing that must be kept in mind: the merchandise is bringing exposure to the artist. 

Sometimes people buy products, like Yeezy, without knowing anything about the creator. If a person finds someone wearing a pair of yeezys and ends up liking the style they will be sure to buy them. Money will flow right to the creator’s pocket even if the person who bought the product did not agree with what the creator did or said.  This mindfulness of consumer usage is very complicated. People need to constantly overview choices and rethink what they do. Of course this does not mean you cannot ever wear or use what you bought but to be aware of how it could help the artist.

Every choice we make has an effect. I am not suggesting to throw away all the shirts or yeezy you bought. Just keep them at home while the artist resolves the trouble he has caused. In the end, the choice is ours. If you really feel that Kanye’s comments were wrong, you should spend your money in alignment with your values.