Spotify has announced a new “hateful content & hateful conduct” policy that puts them right in the middle of trying to police the music and artists on their platform. The first and very public example of this is their move to remove R. Kelly from all of the company’s official playlists, which generally have the most followers and generate a lot of plays and dollars for artists. They have also removed XXTentacion’s “SAD!” from the influential Rap Caviar playlist according to Billboard. It is important to note both artists still have their catalogs on Spotify.
Spotify defines hate content as “content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites 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.”
Where R. Kelly and XXXTentacion are getting into trouble (beyond being allegedly terrible people), is falling afoul of their hateful conduct policy. As the company outlines, it comes down to an editorial decision if someone does something that doesn’t reflect their 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.”
R. Kelly’s music has been pulled from the big playlists like New Music Friday, Discover Weekly or Rap Caviar and mood-based playlists.
“His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it,” Spotify told Billboard. “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.”
This will put Spotify in the middle of a battle over morality in music, which some may not entirely understand (their catalogs are still live!!!!), and many others will likely try and avoid entirely. The music business is not a moral one and filled with people with ugly pasts and presents, so this will be tough for them to police. It will be interesting to see where they draw the line as a public company when it comes to promotion dollars.