The performers in question were flagged as racist "hate bands" by the Southern Poverty Law Center three years ago. The SPLC defines hate music as "white power music labels that record, publish and distribute racist music in a variety of genres."
In a statement to Billboard, a spokeswoman for Spotify said that the record companies and aggregators who contribute music to the service are "at first hand responsible" for the content delivered. She added that "illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us."
"Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention. We are glad to have been alerted to this content — and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder," the statement said.
In 2014, Apple's iTunes removed 54 white power groups from its library after SPLC released the hate music list. At the time, the SPLC criticized Spotify for its "slow" handling of the matter.
"We take this very seriously. Content – artists and music – listed by [German agency Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors] BPjM in Germany is proactively removed from our service," Spotify responded in 2014. "We're a global company, so we use the BPjM index as a global standard for these issues. Other potentially hateful or objectionable content that is flagged by uses or others but not on the BPjM list is handled on a case by case basis."
Tens of millions of tracks are available on Spotify and the streaming service says it's reviewing possible ways to block the content before it goes live. Meanwhile Spotify is urging its users to listen to a new playlist titled Patriotic Passion, which includes Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star Spangled Banner," Lady Gaga's "Americano," and Khalid's "American Teen."
"It's a soundtrack to an America worth fighting for," Spotify's spokeswoman said in a separate statement.