The Entire R.Kelly X Spotify Saga

The Entire R.Kelly X Spotify Saga

On May 10th, music streaming giant Spotify released a new 'hate content and hateful conduct police'. Under this policy, Spotify no longer tolerates music 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.” As a consequence of these sanctions, R.Kelly and XXXTentacion's music was removed from Spotify’s editorial or algorithmic playlists on its service, although XXXTentacion’s 'SAD!' was No. 8 on Spotify’s flagship RapCaviar playlist and has since been removed. 

On May 4, eight women spoke out about R. Kelly, raising allegations of sexual abuse. XXXTentacion has also been fighting domestic violence charges since October of 2016.

This decision by Spotify does not mean you are unable to stream these artist's music, and even if the case was that Spotify removed the music there is a function available to Spotify Premium users where you can upload your own tunes to the service. All this sanction means is that Spotify will no longer actively promote the content of these artists; “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.”

The Response From The Artists

R. Kelly’s management team released this statement to BuzzFeed News:

We appreciate Spotify for continuing to make R. Kelly’s songs accessible to millions of people, although it will stop listing his songs on its official playlists.

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.

Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.

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.

Meanwhile, though, Spotify promotes numerous other artists who are convicted felons, others who have been arrested on charges of domestic violence and artists who sing lyrics that are violent and anti-women in nature.

Mr. Kelly falls into none of these categories, and it is unfortunate and shortsighted that Spotify fails to recognize this.

XXXTentacion’s Representatives responded via Pitchfork.


Public Backlash

Although most internet users are extremely supportive of the decision by Spotify, some groups are upset at the apparent lack of action caused by these sanctions. Women's rights group UltraViolet wrote to Spotify with the following letter:

“Thank you for taking the important first step of removing infamous abusers R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from your official playlists. Your action demonstrates that Spotify is following the lead of Black women who demanded that these two men, who have sexually and physically abused women for years, not be promoted and celebrated.”

“Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse. That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist. We publish this as an open letter because we hope other platforms like iTunes, Google Play Music, and Pandora will continue to follow your lead.”

The letter continues on asking Spotify to also remove other artists known for alleged abuse, including  Chris Brown, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley, Steven Tyler, and 6ix9ine.


Keep up with our Culture Kings News Page to cop the rest of this saga as it unfolds. 

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