CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses alleged sexual assault.
The pressure around institutions to act accordingly in response to the growing number of severe accusations of sexual assault against R. Kelly has been building for a while now, and Spotify have finally taken a huge step that could set a precedent for other streaming services.
Billboard reports that Spotify, as part of their new ‘hate content and hateful conduct’ policy, have removed R. Kelly from all of its curated playlists, whether editorial or algorithmic, which includes the incredibly influential ‘RapCaviar’ and ‘New Music Friday.’
R. Kelly has been accused of multiple accounts of varying degrees of sexual harassment and assault over the years, including running an ‘abusive sex cult’. Allegations have been pouring in as recently as this week. On top of that, a call-to-action from the Time’s Up movement, particularly their branch WOC, to join the #MuteRKelly campaign has given the campaign a major boost in visibility.
We join the call to #MuteRKelly and insist on the safety + dignity of all women. We demand investigations into R. Kelly’s abuse allegations made by women of color + their families for two decades. We call on those who profit from his music to cut ties. #MuteRKelly #TIMESUP #WOC pic.twitter.com/TYmDRVIH00
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 30, 2018
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify told Billboard. “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 told Billboard that rapper XXXTentacion – whose 2018 album ? hit #3 on the ARIA Charts – has also been removed from their playlists after going through his violent past.
Kelly’s manager spoke to Buzzfeed regarding this new move by Spotify, and said “Spotify is adopting a new “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy. R Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire.”
“Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit. It is acting based on false and unproven allegations. It is bowing to social-media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute over matters that have nothing to do with serving customers.”
Kelly has denied all the allegations against him.