Less than a month after Spotify announced its decision to stop promoting artists who have committed “hateful conduct”—whatever that means—by not including them on any official Spotify playlists, the company is calling the policy off. “Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists,” the company wrote in a statement, adding that the hateful conduct policy was “vague” and “created confusion and concern.”
The decision is not entirely surprising, given that CEO Daniel Ek said Thursday that he believes the new policy was “rolled out wrong,” and it was rumored earlier this week that the company would reverse course.
The other half of the new policy that the company announced—that it would remove “hate content,” like the white nationalist bands that got kicked off the platform last year—is still intact. The problem, it seems, is targeting bands and artists who’ve been accused of sexual abuse or assault. The first and only two artists who were affected by the hateful conduct policy were R. Kelly—who is facing increased public scrutiny around his alleged history of having sex with underage girls—and XXXTentacion, who has been charged with aggravated battery against a pregnant woman.
(At no point were R. Kelly or XXX’s catalogs removed from Spotify; they were merely not featured on any playlists that came from the company.)
“That’s not what Spotify is about,” the company’s statement further reads. “We don’t aim to play judge and jury.”
The decision to stop not promoting artists like R. Kelly—at a time when a campaign like #MuteRKelly is asking his label and other entities who support him to drop the guy—raises the question of how effective it would have been in the first place. Streams of Kelly’s songs went up slightly in the week after his music stopped appearing on Spotify playlists. And #MuteRKelly is asking for repercussions much greater than restricting Kelly’s presence on music streaming platforms; it aims to cut Kelly off from the industry completely. Getting him booted from throwback R&B playlists was never going to help.