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Why do musicians keep using Pornhub as a streaming service?

I like to think that musicians operating on the fringes of porn sites have mismatched libidos with their audiences. In reality, it’s to do with censorship, distribution, and a spate of reasons penetrating much deeper than content moderation – excuse the use of words.

My viewing habits on Pornhub changed dramatically last week when I discovered that London’s Drill Music had resurfaced on the site. It was the first time I’d seen artists dodge censorship this way, after UK police linked the genre to knife crime and gang violence, and removed dozens of songs from YouTube and other streaming platforms.

In respect to Pornhub’s aural content (sorry), this was just the tip (sorry again), and you best believe I spent a few late nights on the website thereafter.

Photo: Up All Night

Pornhub, albeit a fantastic alternative destination for banned sub-genres like Drill, often isn’t an alternative at all, but the first place artists go to publish their work.

To take that a step further, Pornhub actually produces music, and has it’s own record label: Pornhub Records. I’ll come back to this.

In 2016 transgender performer, artist, writer, and activist Mykki Blanco debuted her single Loner on Pornhub. In collaboration with fashion label Nicopanda, Pornhub actually produced the video, and described it as “a stylised exploration of love, sexuality and isolation in the digital age”.

The video was also posted on YouTube, but temporarily removed due to YouTube’s Nudity and Sexual Content policies.

In recent years, porn sites have emerged as popular destinations for LGBTQI musicians looking to evade censorship, with many citing YouTube’s community guidelines as biased towards heteronormative videos. While questionably horny content from artists such as Fergie and Nicki Minaj has seemingly met said guidelines with ease, Blanco’s video, devoid of any explicit imagery, didn’t make the cut.

“Why is Queer sexuality censored & policed but images for a Cis male gaze of sexualized women are not ?” Blanco tweeted in response.

That being said, Shia Labeouf’s full frontal in Sigur Rós’s Fjögur Píanó can no longer be found on Youtube (unfortunately). I’d check Pornhub if you’re interested.

Pornhub’s music scene houses artists outside queer and niche scopes too. Kanye West, with his own tribulations in raunchy music clip censorship, has emerged as a key player in porn’s new aural space. Last year, Pornhub rewarded his loyalty with a lifetime premium subscription to the website.

Since past gripes with Tidal, it’s clear the rapper has found the streaming service that suits him best.

Last year Kanye partnered with Vanity Fair as the creative director for the first ever Pornhub Awards. Clad in Yeezy, adult actors received phallic-shaped trophies, which Pornhub later described in a press release as “bespoke erotica-inspired award statue[s] for each of tonight’s unique categories” imagined as futurist “alien sex toys”. West also styled the presenters and the room.

What’s more, at the award show Kanye debuted his song I Love It featuring Lil Pump, and showcased a music video directed by the acclaimed Spike Jonze. It’s all very weird and wonderful.

Moving on, Pornhub’s record label, lovingly dubbed ‘Pornhub Records’ and sort of separate from artists’ uploads, is doing okay too. Launched in 2014, the label set out to develop music in a way that went beyond lewd video clips and created a platform accommodating “mature lyrics for an adult audience”, as per company vice president Cory Price. It garnered a fair bit of attention to begin with, with DJ FaltyDL and Xiu Xiu uploading music videos that faired well respectively.

Indubitably, so did the song Pussy by German rockers Rammstein.

For a while, TMZ alleged that a major record deal between Pornhub records and Coolio was underway. Sadly, the foreplay amounted to nothing more, and Coolio was quick to dismiss the rumours. “If I want to see porn, I’ll put a mirror next to my bed”, the 50-year-old rapper told Rolling Stone.

As of late, the original momentum Pornhub Records garnered hasn’t progressed much past foreplay either. Price told Digital Music News that PornHub had been “focusing on other endeavours of late” but “by no means does that mean Pornhub Records is defunct”.

All in all, none of this should come as a shock. Since ’80s rock band Marillion rebranded themselves as internet-savvy streaming pioneers in 2008 and released their 15th album via p2p services, musicians finding kooky fun ways to distribute content online is really nothing new.

Take that with a grain of salt though, because with artists like Brooke Candy collaborating with Pornhub to create content described as “Deep Throat meets Holy Mountain”, our latest trendy means of music streaming is definitely a space to keep an eye on.

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February 28, 2019