The campaign to #MuteRKelly has gained another powerful ally: This morning, Spotify quietly removed Kelly’s music, as well as that of accused domestic abuser XXXTentacion, from its editorial and algorithmic playlists, according to Billboard and Pitchfork. Both men’s music still comes up when you search their names, and their artist-specific “This is...” playlists are still up on the streaming service. But Spotify will no longer include them in its various genre- and mood-based playlists (i.e., RapCaviar and New Music Friday), and they will no longer pop up in users’ algorithmically-generated Discover Weekly playlists, either.
This decision is a direct result of Spotify’s new “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy, which gives Spotify the right to remove content that “advocates or incites” hate against a particular group or individual, with allowance for different “cultural standards and sensitivities.” It also establishes the “hateful conduct” standard that led to Kelly and XXXTentacion being expunged from curated playlists, about which Spotify says: “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 (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
Spotify previously expunged music with white supremacist lyrics from its site in the wake of last year’s Charlottesville attacks, but the new policy adds an additional approach by targeting artists whose lyrics aren’t necessarily hate speech, but whose real-life actions are objectionable or illegal. Spotify VP Jonathan Prince tells Billboard that the hateful conduct policy is a way for the service to uphold its own internal values, saying that when an artist “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,” Spotify “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.”
This comes less than a week after Buzzfeed published a new report from Jim DeRogatis in which two more women speak out about Kelly’s alleged pattern of sexual abuse towards young women of color. Those charges go back decades, and continue up through the present day and Kelly’s alleged coercive “sex cult.” As for XXXTentaction, he’s currently awaiting trial on 15 felony charges related to his October 2016 arrest for allegedly beating and strangling his pregnant girlfriend.