Spotify has removed R. Kelly’s music from its playlists and recommendations citing a new hate content and hateful conduct public policy, the music streaming service announced on Thursday.
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify said in a statement. “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.”
For more than two decades, Kelly has been embroiled in accusations and controversy, going all the way back to his illegal marriage to a then 15-year-old Aaliyah. In 2002, he was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography stemming from a video allegedly showing the singer having sex with an underage girl. He was eventually acquitted of all charges. The latest scandal stems from the allegations claiming he had kept women against their will for his “sex cult.” Kelly has “unequivocally” denied the reports.
In a statement, the singer’s management team called Spotify’s decision “unfortunate and shortsighted.” The full statement:
We appreciate Spotify for continuing to make R. Kelly’s songs accessible to millions of people, although it will stop listing his songs on its official playlists.
Spotify is adopting a new ‘Hate Content & Hateful Conduct’ policy. R Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire.
Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.
Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit. It is acting based on false and unproven allegations. It is bowing to social-media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute over matters that have nothing to do with serving customers.
Meanwhile, though, Spotify promotes numerous other artists who are convicted felons, others who have been arrested on charges of domestic violence and artists who sing lyrics that are violent and anti-women in nature.
Mr. Kelly falls into none of these categories, and it is unfortunate and shortsighted that Spotify fails to recognize this.
After the Spotify announcement, Time’s Up, which is pushing for major corporations and venues to cut ties with Kelly, thanked the company for its “leadership” on social media.