Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Spotify partially walks back its "hateful conduct" policy after pushback from Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Samir Hussein (Getty Images)

Two weeks ago, Spotify made headlines by announcing that it was extending its “hateful speech” and “hateful conduct” policies out into the real world, removing from its playlists music by artists whose off-stage actions are “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.” Specifically, the service de-playlisted music by R. Kelly—who’s been accused multiple times over the years of predatory behavior against young women, up to and including allegations of running a “sex cult”—and rapper and accused domestic abuser XXXTentacion.

Now, though, the latter artist has had his music re-instated onto the company’s playlists, after an outcry headed up by multiple Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar. Per Bloomberg, representatives for Lamar and several other artists recently called Spotify CEO Daniel Ek to “express their frustration” at the policy, up to and allegedly including threats to pull their music from the service outright.


(It’s worth remembering that none of this music was actually being removed from Spotify’s streaming library. People can—and have, apparently, because Kelly’s seen an annoyingly large bump in listens in the wake of the #MuteRKelly campaign—still stream their songs; they’ve just been removed from Spotify’s various curated and algorithmically-generated lists of content.)

Spotify has responded to the pressure by apparently easing up on its restrictions on what artists can do out of the studio and still remain in its good graces. (At least in part, presumably, because the idea of policing the behavior of the literally millions of artists with music on the service sounds utterly exhausting.) XXXTentacion—who was arrested in 2016 and is currently awaiting trial on 15 felony charges related to his October 2016 arrest for allegedly beating and strangling his pregnant girlfriend—has had his music placed back into contention for Discovery Weekly and other high-profile lists, although the service doesn’t appear to have extended that same leniency to Kelly, or any of the white nationalist bands it’s outright banned from its service under its earlier hate speech policies.

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