Spotify Pulls Its Controversial Promoted Playlist Policy After Artist Backlash

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Spotify made a bid to bring music streaming into the #MeToo movement with their controversial “hateful conduct” policy, but it looks like they’ve already rolled it back after a month. After blowback from affected artists such as XXXTentacion and a threat from Kendrick Lamar and TDE to pull their music from the platform, Variety reports that Spotify officially announced an end to the policy today. They noted in a press release that, “while we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines.” The statement comes after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted at the Code Conference that the policy was “rolled out wrong.”

The policy removed controversial artists such as XXXTentacion, R. Kelly, and Tekashi 69, who have been accused of various abuses, and Tay-K, on trial for murder, from Spotify editorial content such as their high-profile playlists. Many critics conflated the policy with censorship, though no artist’s music was removed from Spotify. R. Kelly even experienced a boost in streams after the policy was announced. There were also allegations of racial bias in the policy, given that so many of the artists on the list (which Spotify said would grow) were hip-hop and R&B artists of color. XXXTentacion highlighted the list’s problems with an e-mailed list of other acts of all ethnicities and genres who have done or been accused of abhorrent things.

In the aftermath of the announcement, there were reports of dissension and confusion even within Spotify’s ranks about the policy, which was initially created to “reflect” Spotify’s “values,” as Spotify told Billboard. TDE Founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, who runs a roster of high-profile artists such as Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and Schoolboy Q, recently told DJ Booth that he was prepared to “get the whole [hip-hop] culture to back out.” He also told the outlet that “there were other people in the business, other powerful artists that were willing to back what I was saying.”

For now, there’s no need for an artist boycott. Ek says that Spotify is now working with Civil Rights organizations on a new policy to implement.