Should we stop supporting lostprophets, on streaming services, because of Ian Watkins?

The Welsh band, lostprophets, have essentially disbanded, after lead singer Ian Watkins was found guilty of horrible crimes against children. I stopped listening many years ago, thankfully, but I can imagine my first instinct would be to delete all their albums, destroy their CDs and remove any posters or paraphernalia. People have, obviously, also wondered (or screamed) about stores and streaming music services continuing to host lostprophets.

BBC Wales Arts and Media Correspondent Huw Thomas Tweeted about the music streaming service, Spotify.:

When asked if there’s a precedent for this, Thomas replied:

Major retailer HMV appeared to be one of the few he knew about that had removed the band:

(I can’t tell if lostprophets is still being hosted, as I have no access to Spotify due to living in the Dark Ages, according to the Internet.)

Assuming the band is still being hosted, that the other band members’ knew nothing about Watkins’ crimes, and services like Spotify do provide money to artists/performers, is it right for us to ask for the band’s removal from services providing them (both) with an income?

My first thought is that Watkins’ crimes don’t need to hurt more people; in this case, it would be the other band members who appear innocent. Often in our haste, fuelled by anger, we forget that punishment aimed at the offending individual can sometimes, inadvertently, hurt innocents related to that person.

Justice is meaningless if punishment is only a synonym for revenge. No, we’re not courts or police or whatever: but we too can and do punish (witness the rage and the events of the Justine Sacco incident). So the point is to target the wrong-doer and undermine punishment for those closely related.

Of course, one can say that it’s bigger than band members incomes. These gentlemen aren’t,  as far i know, struggling for money, nor are they completely reliant on streaming music services. Thus, by removing lostprophets, Spotify can show support for abused people by saying “we care more about solidarity with your safety and sense of injustice than [say] making money”.  Better yet, lostprophets could themselves withdraw.

But why only Spotify? Should the band members cease all touring, should hosts cancel the performances? Perhaps there’s less at stake with concerts, since most don’t care who host those concerts – since it’s about the band rather than the organisers. Spotify however has its name everywhere, so you can associate that brand directly with the current awful cloud around lostprophets.

Of course, the band has essentially broken up due to Watkins’ horrid crimes. But there are issues that arise if the other, innocent band members were entirely dependent on the band and income from sales.

In many cases, of course, the point is that I can buy all the albums and just destroy them and they’ll still make something; but what about tours, future listeners, and so on, that generates more and new income? This seems little different to instances to any organisation is brought into the spotlight not for the efficiency of what they do, but because of the horrible crime of one or two members. Investors pull out, clients drop them and so on.

There’s no hard and fast solution; it requires case-by-case analysis but, in response, we must remember not to punish too far and too wide off the mark of who deserves punishment (and even then we must decide what that punishment looks like). If I were a fan, I’d probably no longer be – but I would be hesitant since, if everyone did so, it could unnecessarily harm innocent people who just happened to be making money the same way as Watkins.

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  1. says

    I don’t remember the exact details, but didn’t John Wayne Gacy or one of those horrible killers start doing artwork in prison, and have a gallery show of his works? And, if I recall correctly, someone bought them all and threw them in a dumpster. “There. That is what I think of you.”

    At a certain point someone’s crimes are serious enough that it’s fair and reasonable to eradicate their attempts to rehabilitate their reputation. Because allowing them to rehabilitate makes it less likely others will learn from the social pressure “do not do that.”

  2. kevincharleston says

    Interesting question – thanks Tauriq. Hate the sin but love the sinner? In a far less extreme example I’m reminded of my own reaction to discovering the truth about OSC – giving away the books I had, and refusing to see the movie. There are people willing to buy tickets despite knowing that the author is a a homophobic misogynist. If I were a librarian I’d have a conundrum – banning books is an anathema- but would possibly settle on an insert which would describe the author and allow the borrower to find more information. Perhaps spotify can flag the music somehow and explain why they have done what they have “did you know you are listening to a convicted child molester?”.
    But then I’d have to start on all the other authors in the library whose views are morally outmoded. But as you say – has to be a case-by-case analysis. Now what would I insert into “a long walk to freedom” …

  3. cswella says

    I try to be very discriminating when I choose what I listen to(or watch/read/etc), especially in criminal cases.

    In this instance, the crime of watkins is strong enough to ruin the whole thing for me. If his bandmates were completely innocent of knowledge, I’d feel bad about them, but I wouldn’t be able to listen to anything labelled “lost prophets” without thinking about what he did.

    It’s a shitty situation for the rest of the band, but I would say that if they want my business, reform a new band with new name/singer. That they have already broken up the band is a good sign, whatever reason they have for doing it.

    For spotify/pandora/etc, I think they can provide the music if they want. What he did criminally and what he does for a living are separate, so I think that if there is an audience for his art, he should be allowed to make money. It’s up to each person or company if they want to support it.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Dunno nothing about the men or their music, but may I take it from the OP and comments that, despite the name, lostprophets was/is not a religious band?

  5. says

    I’d still listen to the music I’ve got and, if it were a group I were particularly fond of, would even buy others. Sure, he’s done some horrible things but that’s a separate issue to the music. Removing the music isn’t going to prevent future crimes, that’s already been accomplished with prison time. I’m not sure it’d show solidarity with abuse victims in a meaningful way either as the music had nothing to do with the abuse.

    We say at other times that we can both agree and disagree with people, for example those atheists who supported Christopher Hitchen’s thoughts on religion but disagreed with his opinion on war in the Middle East, and we should be able to that here too. Just because he did horrible things in his spare time shouldn’t detract from his musical ability.

  6. Oob says

    I’ve got a copy of a terrible movie called “Cannibal Holocaust”, which is part racist and part “actually really killing a turtle on camera” and also (if rumor is to be believed) part harassing villagers who were NOT in on the production of it.

    It is a terrible movie, but I can’t actually bring myself to get rid of the thing or burn it in effigy or whatever. It’s one of those things where I don’t see how doing so would in any way change the facts behind it. On the plus side, there is absolutely no danger of the movie’s existence in any way ever convincing anyone that what they did to make it was justified.

  7. Unreasonable Sanity says

    Getting rid of albums that you already have because one of the people who made them was bad seems like magical thinking, a kind of genetic fallacy, if you will.. The only rationally justified actions would be those that would prevent any more money going to this person, such as a boycott. However, is this person even likely to get any of the band revenue in the first place? Does he still get some of the royalties?

  8. Latverian Diplomat says

    @1: There’s a difference between criminals milking their notoriety after the fact and legitimate artists whose work stands alone. I seriously doubt Gacy’s (or whoever’s) work deserved a showing on its own merit.

    Roman Polanski is a rapist, Phil Spector is a murderer, Mel Gibson is an insane homophobe, but they also have talent and made genuine artistic contributions. And they all work in collaborative media that involve(d) a lot of other people.

    I think a personal choice not to engage with a person’s work is fine. I would never want to see these folks’work eradicated from the earth.

  9. Rob says

    I was never a huge fan so I just have a few songs downloaded from years ago, and just one song sitting in one of my torch music playlists. But it has been on my mind. That I’m somehow supporting what he did if I keep listening. But then, the band was not just him, and why should I take it out on the rest of them that the singer is a major perv?

  10. Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy says

    To add to what Latverian Diplomat said:

    Roman Polanski drugged raped a child, jumped bail, and is walking around unpunished while fellow celebrities make excuses for how it wasn’t “really” rape. How many of the people who think Spotify should drop lostprophets have been after netflix to stop carrying Polanski movies, let alone urging actors not to work with Polanski?

    Any future music royalties are unlikely to do Ian Watson much good; Polanski is still getting and spending the money from his works.

  11. says

    It’s one thing to refuse to watch movies by actors like Tom Cruise or John Travolta because they are the “star” and you know part of their large salary is going to the scientology cult. It’s quite another to dump an entire work or works because of a supporting actor (e.g. character actor Jeffrey Jones and child pornography). The Beatles recorded “Helter Skelter” from which Charles Manson receives royalties. Should the entire Beatles catalogue or that album be blacklisted?

    If I were involved in this debate, I’d ask that Watkins’ share of royalties be forfeited, donated to charity or given to his family both so that the band wouldn’t suffer (would still be listed on spotify) and so that Watkins doesn’t personally profit from it any further. I do believe there are other cases where convicted criminals were prevented from profiting on their notariety.

  12. John Horstman says

    I guess for me the question is ultimately: is the music in any way related to enabling or furthering the abuse of children? I don’t criticize the Catholic Church for the fact that various rapists have infiltrated their ranks of clergy, I blame them for protecting and enabling those people once their crimes are known to the RCC hierarchy. If they aggressively policed the clergy and turned rapist priests in to the police at the first accusation, they would be GOOD actors (with respect to that issue). The analogy isn’t perfect – the RCC does a lot of other terrible things, priests convicted of raping children aren’t going to continue earning royalties from donations to the RCC, etc. – but as far as I’m concerned, the only function of the justice system should be preventing behaviors that harm others to the greatest extent possible. Punishment, retribution, and the like never enter into it (I don’t particularly buy the deterrent argument – deterrents motivate people to not get caught, not necessarily to not commit a crime).

  13. John Horstman says

    Re #12: I should clarify that I don’t just mean the formalized legal justice system, as a boycott in any form would not be part of that.

  14. Tauriq Moosa says

    Excellent thoughts, everyone. I particularly liked

    #8 Latverian Diplomat

    “@1: There’s a difference between criminals milking their notoriety after the fact and legitimate artists whose work stands alone. I seriously doubt Gacy’s (or whoever’s) work deserved a showing on its own merit.”

    #10: Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    “How many of the people who think Spotify should drop lostprophets have been after netflix to stop carrying Polanski movies, let alone urging actors not to work with Polanski?”

    This is perhaps my favourite response, in terms of consistency of attacking or asking for Spotify to remove material.

    #11 left0ver1under

    “I’d ask that Watkins’ share of royalties be forfeited, donated to charity or given to his family both so that the band wouldn’t suffer (would still be listed on spotify) and so that Watkins doesn’t personally profit from it any further.”

    Brilliant response. Thus, you can still support music of the band and know it’s going somewhere good.