Spotify can’t seem to stay out of the headlines as of late. When the music streaming service updated its behavioral policies and made the editorial decision to remove R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from it’s “algorithmic playlists,” due to the artists’ histories of sexual assault allegations, many voices sprang forth in response to the controversial move.
First, the US-based women’s advocacy group, UltraViolet, came forth to urge Spotify to hold other artists accused of sexual assault and/or gender-based violence accountable as well. They named Chris Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, and Eminem, among others, in their open letter to the music streaming giant.
“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,” Spotify told Billboard of their initial policy decision.
Naturally, the hip-hop community went up in arms over the streaming platform’s decision. After the policy was enacted, it was reported that XXXTentacion was projected to lose $60,000 a year because of the platform’s removal of his content. In a backwards move, R. Kelly’s streaming rates actually made a slight climb in numbers — from 6.5 million weekly streams to 6.7 million. Now Bloomberg reports that Grammy award winner Kendrick Lamar called Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek. and Head of AR, Troy Carer, to threaten to pull his music from the platform if the policy remained in tact.
And it worked. Spotify has walked back on its current policy.
The new policy arrives in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social media movements, which led to the more recent #MuteRKelly initiative. Yet, whether they consciously or knowingly did so, Spotify injected themselves into a controversial cultural moment surrounding sexual assault — even as employees themselves have begun publicly rejecting the policy. Whether the streaming giant is in the right or wrong remains up for debate, but allowing a single artist to strong arm an entire digital platform, similar to the way Taylor Swift steered Apple Music’s initial launch, sets a menacing precedent.
H/T: High Snobiety.