Spotify Is Taking A Stand Against R. Kelly By Removing His Music From Their Playlists

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Update: XXXTentacion, who recently faced controversy when a video of him hitting a woman surfaced, has also been removed from Spotify playlists as part of the new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy. As Billboard notes, his song “SAD!” was on the popular Rap Caviar playlist yesterday (May 9) but not today, and “a source close to Spotify confirmed that the song had been removed under the new guidelines.”

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As R. Kelly continues to get accused of more and more counts of inappropriate sexual behavior, the #MuteRKelly movement is gaining some real traction, so much so that it prompted a response from the controversial singer himself (or rather, from a representative). The statement attests that Kelly “is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.”

He may believe that, but Spotify isn’t buying it: In a big win for #MuteRKelly, the streaming platform announced today that it will no longer include Kelly’s music in its curated playlists and “algorithmic recommendations” like Discover Weekly, thanks to its new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy. The company says in a statement provided to Billboard:

“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly. 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.”

Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s vice president and head of content and marketplace policy, also tells Billboard:

“When we look at promotion, we look at issues around hateful conduct, where you have an artist or another creator who has done something off-platform that is so particularly out of line with our values, egregious, in a way that it becomes something that we don’t want to associate ourselves with. So we’ve decided that in some circumstances, we may choose to not work with that artist or their content in the same way — to not program it, to not playlist it, to not do artist marketing campaigns with that artist.”

While Kelly’s music will remain on Spotify, it will certainly be harder to come across without actively seeking it out. Spotify’s playlists are big traffic drivers, so while his songs will remain on the platform, this is still a strong way to limit their reach.