Music streaming service Spotify has removed two artists from its official playlists and recommendations in light of the site’s new policy against “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct.”
Billboard reported on Thursday that R. Kelly was removed from Spotify’s “algorithmic recommendations,” while Pitchfork reported that XXXTentacion was also removed from the playlists and recommendations as a result of the policy.
The “Hate Content and & Hateful Conduct” policy covers both music that is seen to promote “hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability” and artists’ personal behavior.
According to the New York Times, R. Kelly has faced years of allegations of sexual abuse, though he is not facing any criminal charges right now. A new BuzzFeed report published in early May detailed the accounts of “two more” women with allegations against R. Kelly. This came after the BuzzFeed report claiming R. Kelly was operating a sex cult in 2017. In 2008, he was acquitted of multiple counts of child pornography. His behavior had received a pass as recently as 2013, when Jimmy Kimmel told R. Kelly, “There is so much I could learn from you.”
XXXTentacion, meanwhile, was charged with “aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness-tampering,” according to a report in Pitchfork.
Before the debut of Spotify’s policy regarding hateful conduct, the site already removed the music of artists that were associated with “neo-Nazi and white supremacist hate groups.” The “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy, however, takes a more lenient approach when it comes to actual hateful conduct. Rather than banning artists who engage in hateful conduct towards people from the platform entirely, the Spotify policy claims:
We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions - what we choose to program - to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.
In a statement to Billboard on Spotify changing how it treats R. Kelly’s music, a spokesperson said, “We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly.”
“His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions -- what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator,” Spotify continued.