Spotify has officially inserted their take regarding artists engaged in ‘hateful conduct’ in its policies this morning.
The music streaming service has removed music from R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from its editorial or algorithmic playlists. It began with R. Kelly, who’s faced with recent allegations of being in charge of a “sex cult” on top of his historic allegations from many years past — he’s never been charged with a crime, but accusations continue to pour in. Billboard received a statement from Spotify on removing R. Kelly from its playlists:
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly. 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.”
Additionally, Spotify has included a new page to address this action, found on its Frequently Asked Questions. According to the site’s FAQ on a page labeled ‘Hate Content & Hateful Conduct,’ Spotify gives more detail on their decision:
Spotify is a platform for artistic expression, exploration, and inspiration. We believe in openness, diversity, tolerance and respect, and we want to promote those values through music and the creative arts. This policy is designed to do that, consistent with our distinct roles in music and media — from distribution to promotion to co-creation. That’s why we do not permit hate content on Spotify, and remove it whenever we find it.
What do we consider “hate content?” Hate content is content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.
At the same time, however, it’s important to remember that cultural standards and sensitivities vary widely. That means there will always be content that is acceptable in some circumstances, but is offensive in others, and we will always look at the entire context.
What if content violates our policy? When we are alerted to content that violates our policy, we may remove it (in consultation with rights holders) or refrain from promoting or manually programming it on our service.
What about hateful conduct by an artist? 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.
The FAQ page also addresses how the content is found and removed. Additionally, the page directs listeners on how to report hateful conduct:
It is impossible for us to manually review all of the content on Spotify, and we expect our partners to ensure that the content they deliver to us is lawful and in keeping with our policies, so we employ a system of three overlapping “nets” to catch potentially hateful content and evaluate it:
Content monitoring: We are continuing to develop and implement content monitoring technology which identifies content on our service that has been flagged as hate content on specific international registers.
Expert partners: We regularly consult with rights advocacy groups to review their most recent analyses of hateful content.
Your Help: If you feel any content violates our hate content policy, complete the form here and we will carefully review it against our policy.
R. Kelly has not responded to Spotify’s decision to discontinue promotion of his music. Reacting to Spotify’s decision, XXXTentacion’s team sent a message to New York Times reporter Joe Coscarelli with just a question:
a response from XXXTentacion’s team on Spotify’s decision to remove him from playlists pic.twitter.com/ivtEDJ2yGS
— Joe Coscarelli (@joecoscarelli) May 10, 2018
Sure, this decision is pretty messy on Spotify’s part, but it’s a decision that holds mega-famous artists accountable for their alleged misconduct and Spotify isn’t violating any laws by doing so. They’re fully allowed to promote (or not promote) any artist of their choosing as an entity, and they’re not removing these artists’ music from their catalogue completely — so if you’re still down to listen to R. Kelly and XXXTentacion, you’re free to add ’em to your own playlists manually. But Spotify has taken a stand, and they’ve done it boldly.