As 2018 approaches, the Spotify explicit filter is still MIA

Editorial / Entertainment / Music
Spotify explicit filter

From a programming standpoint, being able to add a filter to skip these tracks or play the non-explicit version really shouldn’t be all that difficult.

Pandora, Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Spotify are just a few of the more well-known choices for streaming music. While you’d think they have a lot in common, there’s one feature that is sorely lacking in Spotify. An explicit filter. While many of the top streaming music services have this must-have feature, the Spotify explicit filter is still non-existent, even after thousands of requests for it. This may not be a big deal to many but Spotify does offer a family plan which makes one wonder why they don’t yet have a way to filter explicit songs from their service.

Streaming music and family accounts

Before we get too much further, this article/editorial has actually been some time in the making and I did mean to get around to writing it up sooner. As my kids get older, it made more sense to look into some sort of family plan for streaming music. While I used to use Google Play Music, because my Google Account is a grandfathered Google Apps account, there are certain features and services that I am unable to use — like signing up for a Google Play Family Library or Play Music family account. So I went on a hunt for an affordable streaming service with a large library for the family. Spotify was one of the top recommendations, and the price is pretty reasonable for the four users we have on it. I was a bit shocked to find that there was no explicit filter option.

Explicit filters

Apple Music allows users to restrict playing of explicit content, as does Pandora. Google Play Music also offers a partial explicit filter and allows users to filter out explicit music while listening to one of the many radio streams offered on the service. However, Spotify still managed to win out over other services for various reasons I won’t get into and my wife and I had a chat with our then 10 and 12-year-olds about making the right choices when listening to music and setting up their playlists. Even still, we do have regular conversations with them to see what they’re currently listening to on Spotify.

Spotify community feedback

While there are a couple threads on the Spotify community forums, there is one that stands out in particular. The thread, titled “Explicit Button,” was first posted on February 18th, 2012. Yes, 2012. Six years later and thousands of upvotes and comments and the feature has still not been implemented by Spotify. Interestingly enough, Spotify did comment on the forum — over a year ago on November 18th, 2106.

Hello everyone, Spotify Staff here again. We wanted to let you all know we still think this is a good idea. We don’t have any specific updates for you on this but we hear your feedback that you are interested in filtering explicit content. If we any information to share on this feature request I will post here first. Thanks folks!

So what’s happened since then? Nothing of any fruition aside from even more frustrated user comments, upvotes, and pages of users practically begging for the explicit filter feature to be added. At the time of this article, the thread in question currently sits at 10,504 votes and 381 pages of comments. However, it appears as there is a bug/limit in the forum that only allows a certain number of comments and upvotes before rewriting over them, as user vgullotta points out (currently on page 379):

So, we’re at page 373 out of 379 max pages of comments again, and then this forum will roll back over to 1 AGAIN. Just to point out the sheer number of comments and people asking for this. I wonder how many times this forum has rolled over to 1, which will in turn start overwriting comments, again… 10 comments per page * 379 pages = 3790 comments asking for this every time it has rolled over, which I know it has done at least once.

Back to the actual issue at hand… Spotify already marks songs as EXPLICIT, and in many cases offers up an explicit and non-explicit version of songs if available. Unfortunately, when playing Top 50 or other playlists created by Spotify, the explicit version of the track is included. Not only does this make it difficult for kids to listen to explicit free versions of their favourite songs without having to create a custom playlist, it also prevents users from using Spotify curated lists to play when company is over, at the park, on the beach, while camping, or in a place of business.


Spotify already marks songs as EXPLICIT but offers no way to automatically filter them out (screenshot courtesy Spotify).

Spotify explicit filter testing

There was some hope back in September when another user, Apbilk, posted screenshots with a setting toggle titled “Allow Explicit Content.” Unfortunately, the option disappeared soon after and when questioned about it, Spotify gave the usual canned “we always test new features” type of response.

From a programming standpoint, being able to add a filter to skip these tracks or play the non-explicit version really shouldn’t be all that difficult. As seen by the example above, it looks like Spotify was working on it and Apbilk mentioned in other comments that it worked great when enabled. When questioned about the lack of an explicit filter before by users, Spotify likes to tout the reason that songs should be listened to as the artist intends them (as is also present in their FAQ).

It’s great to hear music as the artist intended it to be heard. This means Spotify can sometimes include explicit content, so look out for the EXPLICIT label on any releases (E on the web player).

If you don’t want to hear anything explicit, you can check for the clean version of a track. Pick your device to learn how.

However, it is an industry practice for many songs and artists to release an explicit and a non-explicit (radio edit) version of popular songs so that they can be played and listened to in more places. As a result, this reasoning hasn’t held much water with Spotify users.

Funny enough, Spotify censors their forums and **bleeps** out explicit words, as demonstrated by THEM and other users.

Yeah what the **bleep**! Why can’t I remove the lyrics with explicit lyrics!?!?! This **bleep** should be so **bleep**ing easy to implement. Spotify even links the **bleep**ing non-explicit version to the explicit versions….. so this **bleep** should be so easy to implement!

(I’m sure my comment will be flagged/banned etc. in the “community” section of spotify. BUT how about in the ACTUAL product!?!?!)

PS See I can’t even **bleep**ing post curses to the **bleep**ing community site… why can’t this be in the ACTUAL **bleep**ING PRODUCT.

There is a time and a place…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a prude. And sure, explicit can mean everything from ass and shit to f*** or worse. Give me some old school N.W.A, Tupac, or Ice Cube cranked and I’m a happy camper. However, there is a time and place for most things and explicit lyrics are definitely one of those things. With an explicit filter, it would be way easier to just toss on a “Canada Top 50” list during family gatherings, for small business owners who stream it, listening in the workplace at your desk, or for cranking while driving in a parade. What’s even more odd is that a streaming service which offers a Family Plan doesn’t have a way to filter explicit content for younger users…

Cancelling Spotify

There are more than a few users on the forums who have indicated they have cancelled or will be cancelling their Spotify Premium memberships if an explicit filter option isn’t implemented. While cancelling and putting your money where your mouth is (so to speak) is definitely one way to make an organization pay attention — if enough people do it. I wish it was that easy, but it’s not. In my case, I used to use Google Play Music and loved it but when it came time to my family, I can’t use the Family Music plan because I have everyone on a grandfathered Google Apps account from way back when Google offered them up for free. Google Play Family Library or Play Music family accounts are not supported by GApps (as I mentioned above) and I’m not setting everyone up with Gmail accounts just to use those (not to mention the headache of years of using a personalized domain for email and everything else). As for Apple music, it’s darn near impossible to set it up without an iOS device… unless they changed something in the past couple months. Tidal is too expensive, not to mention doesn’t have the same selection. Unfortunately, some of us are stuck with Spotify if we want a decent music selection at a reasonable price or due to other technical issues presented by some of the other services.

We reached out a few months ago to Spotify with a request for comment but never did receive a response from them. Of course, we’ll update this post should they respond. Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before an explicit filter option comes to the Spotify service, but Spotify users aren’t holding their breath after almost six years of this being a much-requested issue by paying subscribers of the streaming service.

Are you a Spotify user that’s frustrated by the lack of an explicit filter? Have you reached out to them via social media or canceled your premium account over this? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

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