Spotify has unveiled a new policy regarding what it terms “hate content and hateful conduct”. This policy will not only see Spotify removing songs and albums from the service but affect certain artists too. And R. Kelly is the first of those affected artists.
Spotify’s New Policies on Hate
Spotify’s new policy relates to hate content and hateful conduct. Spotify regards hate content as that which “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual”. So, songs deemed to be racist or sexist, etc.
In theory, Spotify’s new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy is nice, but if you’re going to hold 1 or 2 artists accountable, you have to do the same with every artist.
— ronald isley (@yoyotrav) May 10, 2018
Hateful conduct concerns the behaviour of artists away from the recording studios. So, if a popstar is found to have exhibited, to cite Spotify’s example, “violence against children and sexual violence”, the streaming service may choose to stop supporting that artist.
R. Kelly Has Already Been Demoted
It seems that Spotify has already enacted its policy with regards to R. Kelly. The singer/songwriter best known for I Believe I Can Fly, has essentially been ushered to the Spotify sidelines, with Spotify choosing to no longer promote him or his music.
Spotify has not banned R. Kelly. So if you search for him on Spotify you’ll still be able to enjoy his music. However, Spotify has removed R. Kelly’s music from its curated playlists and it will no longer actively promote him anywhere on the service.
A Slippery Slope Towards Censorship
Spotify has the right to promote (and by the same token, not promote) whichever artists it wants. However, it should be noted that while R. Kelly has been accused of various misdemeanours over the years, he has never actually been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
Regardless of the merits of individual cases, Spotify may end up regretting this. The company could have maintained its policy of not judging an artist about things that have nothing to do with music. Instead, Spotify will now be making moral judgements on people.
This feels like a slippery slope. Right now, the policy is to stop promoting artists that don’t align with Spotify’s values. Which is fair enough. However, tomorrow, this policy may evolve into something else entirely. And then Spotify will be accused of censorship.
Further Reading for Spotify Fans
If you’re not yet familiar with the streaming music service you should check out our unofficial guide to Spotify. And if you’re unsure what R. Kelly’s music is being removed from you should check out our primer on Spotify’s automagic playlists.