Spotify has become a premier source of music streaming for listeners all over the world – and in the time since its inception, the brand has also moved to compile and create automated and curated playlists to help enhance the user experience. This has helped people discover new music, artists and to broaden their tastes – and, up until recently, there have been little to no holds barred when it comes to what can and can’t be picked up on such listings. News of a new policy being drafted in, however, means that certain artists and their music will find themselves altogether inapplicable for inclusion in certain playlists.
The biggest name featuring such a block is arguably R Kelly, as Spotify launches its intention to mount a ‘Hate Content and Hateful Conduct’ policy – as allegations surrounding the star including those amounting to sexual assault appear to flag up against the new guidelines which they are pushing forwards. The block will mean that Kelly’s music will no longer be actively promoted by the platform, though listeners will still be able to find his work on the service should they search for it. The definition of such hate content, according to Spotify, amounts to “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.”
“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,” a spokesperson for Spotify advised the BBC. “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behaviour – but we want our editorial decisions – what we choose to program – to reflect our values.”
Allegations surrounding Kelly and sexual assault have come to the fore once again following the rise of hashtags such as #MuteRKelly on social media and through documentaries examining the discourse around the controversial singer. Kelly has continued to deny any such claims made against him – though for now, it appears that Spotify are holding firm on ensuring that any content that breaches this policy simply doesn’t skip past their filters – which could mean that more music by more artists could yet face the promotional chop and avoid regular slots on the platform’s popular playlisting services.