The Disappearing Act: Uncovering Why Songs Disappear From Spotify

Spotify is now available in 180 countries and 62 languages. The company continues expansion into new markets and adds thousands of albums each day to the platform. It’s evident that they want the entire world’s music on the platform, regional languages included.

But how do they do this? Does Spotify buy and own the rights to all the music in the world? No, they do not.

Instead, they work with hundreds of thousands of artists and record companies. They sign licensing agreements – contracts that allow them to stream music for a fixed period.

So, why do songs disappear on Spotify?

Songs disappear on Spotify when they no longer have the license to stream them. Songs may also disappear if the artist signs an exclusive licensing deal with another music streaming platform. Additionally, an artist or record company can retract Spotify’s rights to use their music.

Given the size of their operations, it’s normal to expect variability in the music available on their platform.

This article will discuss how licensing agreements can lead to songs disappearing and other issues that cause songs not to play.

Why does Spotify need a song license renewal?

Think of it like this, streaming services like Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify rent music from artists and record labels. They pay for a license to use tracks for a fixed amount of time-based on the contract. In other words, Spotify gets into an agreement with a third party to use the content.

That means Spotify does not own the music you stream on their app.

Your access to a song on Spotify is directly affected by their rights and licensing agreements. This brief explanation is a precursor to understanding why songs disappear (and sometimes reappear) on Spotify.

Spotify needs to renew all licensing agreements to stream the content covered by the contract. Occasionally, one or both sides may fail to renew the contract. At times, songs disappear temporarily until the two parties finalize the licensing agreement terms.

There can be many reasons for a contractual dispute. Either way, Spotify will be locked out of streaming the songs on their platform. Under very rare circumstances, a song may not be available on Spotify due to technical issues.

Songs that disappear on Spotify due to licensing issues may appear or reappear (as new versions) later. So, it’s a good idea to let them linger in your playlist and check back later.

Check if a newer version of the song is available

Songs may also disappear from Spotify if removed and replaced with a newer version by the label or artist. These songs are re-uploaded, causing the older version to disappear from your ‘Liked’ songs or playlists on Spotify. You need to search for the music and add it again.

Can artists revoke Spotify’s streaming rights for their songs?

Artists and record labels may disagree about the music publishing rights of a song. There have been occasions when an artist or label yanks the streaming rights from Spotify. The label can revoke Spotify’s streaming rights temporarily or permanently for a song or album.

It brings to mind the recent uproar over a “podcast” that caused several artists like Neil Young, David Cosby, and Joni Mitchell to pull their songs from Spotify. In a word, a fallout between an artist, recording company, and Spotify may lead to songs disappearing from the platform.

Artists like Prince and Bob Seger have pulled music from Spotify and don’t allow their music to play on most streaming platforms.

Other artists like Tool and Taylor Swift withheld their music from Spotify but changed their stance later, citing ‘agreeable terms’ in the licensing agreements.

The label can sign an exclusive licensing deal with another platform

Streaming platforms are trying to create brand value by offering exclusive content. Often, one platform like Apple Music may buy exclusive rights for an album. If they strike such a deal, all other platforms will not be able to stream that album anymore.

Why have songs disappeared from my Spotify playlist?

Spotify itself doesn’t remove songs for any specific reason. Songs disappear when an artist removes them, or the license expires. There could be several reasons why this may occur. If the contract is not renewed, Spotify loses licensing rights to that content for whatever reasons.

In other words, the songs covered by that contract will disappear from the platform. Consequently, you lose access to those songs if they are in your playlists or ‘Liked’ lists. Most of these disagreements are worked out by the legal teams representing the two parties.

If you want to restore your deleted Spotify playlist, take a look at this Youtube video.

Why do some songs not play on Spotify?

Songs may not play on Spotify due to corrupt cache files or deleted codecs (for local files). You may need to delete the Spotify app and do a clean reinstallation to resolve the issue. It can also happen if you don’t have the latest version of Quicktime or if your Spotify client isn’t up to date.

Note that we are talking about something vastly different than was previously discussed. The problem occurs when you click on tracks, and they won’t play. The song loads, it seems to be playing, but it is stuck at zero without a dot on the ‘now playing’ bar.

Here are a few reasons why songs don’t play and how you can troubleshoot them:

#1 Check for an outdated version of Quicktime

At times, songs may not play on Spotify if Quicktime – the multimedia framework by Apple – is not entirely up to date. Go to App Store, search Quicktime, and download the latest version. Install the update and terminate the Spotify app. Reopen Spotify and try playing the song again.

That should fix the issue on iOS devices. Additionally, you should enable automatic updates on your Apple device to prevent this from happening in the future. Please note that Windows no longer needs Quicktime, so this isn’t a problem for Android and PC users.

#2 Corrupt Cache Copies

For various reasons, Spotify can cache a corrupt copy of a song on your device. It may lead to the aforementioned problem of songs not playing in the client. The only thing you can do here is to uninstall/reinstall the app and re-sync all your downloaded content.

#3 Check the song is in your local files

Some users also report songs do not play on Spotify or Spotify Radio if you own the song on iTunes or another music program. They resolved the issue by deleting the track from their local files. Alternatively, you can right-click on the song and unlink it in the Spotify app.

If you still can’t play specific songs on Spotify, contact support to find a solution.

Can I request a song to be taken off Spotify?

You can fill out an infringement form to have music taken off Spotify as an artist. You can also contact the label or distributor to issue a takedown request on your behalf to have a song taken off Spotify. Spotify will remove the song after receiving your request in 24 to 48 hours.

Many artists wish to take down older versions and re-upload new ones. A band can sometimes remove a song they uploaded during their initial days, as it may not represent them well. Artists can request Spotify to remove a specific song in these and other scenarios.

Please note that an infringement or content claim can subject you to legal consequences. 

Spotify responds to takedown requests from a label within two business days. Songs taken down can no longer be played and will be grayed out on the Spotify dashboard. However, you can still access these songs with a direct link.

Artists cannot delete their profile, but if they remove all the music, it will not show in search results on Spotify. Previous links to the artist profile will appear as empty. Contact Spotify’s Content Operations Ingestion team for further clarifications on how to remove songs.

Can I report a song on Spotify?

Spotify users can report songs, playlists, and images if they are hateful or offensive.

Report a song on PC by right-clicking on it and clicking ‘Report.’ Fill out the form and submit it. Spotify will review your request and remove the content if it violates their content policy.

Please watch this Youtube video regarding the topic of why songs get deleted on Spotify.


We hope this article explains why songs disappear on Spotify and what you can do to fix the issues when applicable. 

Downloaded songs (for offline listening) are also a great way to use Spotify without data. We’ve covered that in detail in a previous post.

But downloading them for offline use may not be the solution because the tracks will also appear greyed out. There’s only one way to keep Spotify downloads forever. and that’s purchase a hard copy such as CD or vinyl.

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