Spotify backs away from content policy changes after backlash

Streaming service Spotify has announced it is pulling back on its recent content policy that attempted to address “hate content and conduct.”

“Spotify recently shared a new policy around hate content and conduct. And while we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines,” the company said in a statement posted online Friday.

Last month, the streaming service announced it would remove R. Kelly’s music from its editorial and algorithmic owned and operated playlists, citing its new policy. It was discovered that other artists, including rapper XXXtentacion, would also be excluded under the changes. 

None of these artists, however, had their music completely scrubbed from Spotify. 

While some praised Spotify for the bold move, others criticized the company for singling out particular artists. Some requested Spotify also apply the rules to others who have been charged with sexual misconduct and violence.

Earlier this week, Spotify’s CEO admitted the company had flubbed in rolling out its new anti-hate policy.

“We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job,” Daniel Ek said at the Code Conference on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Spotify ‘could have done a much better job’ with rolling out the new policy, said founder and CEO Daniel Ek, seen here in New York in March. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Spotify)

The part of the new policy that aimed to address “the most extreme artist controversies” featured language that was “vague and left too many elements open to interpretation,”  Spotify’s Friday statement noted. That led some artists to question whether “mistakes in their youth would be used against them,” it read.

“Our role is not to regulate artists. Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.”

R. Kelly under the spotlight

Spotify had targeted R. Kelly because of the multitude of claims that he sexually abused women. 

Spotify had targeted R. Kelly because of the multitude of claims that he sexually abused women, allegations which the singer has denied. (Mike Pont/Getty Images)

The Time’s Up campaign and organizers behind the #MuteRKelly movement have called for the music industry to act against the singer, who has long faced accusations of questionable conduct with women but consistently denied the allegations. 

The Grammy winner was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography, after a video circulated appearing to show him having sex with a teenage girl. He faces no new charges. However, last week, a woman filed a lawsuit in New York against the top-selling singer, accusing him of sexual battery, knowingly infecting her with herpes and locking her in rooms for punishment.

XXXtentacion, who had a Top 10 pop hit with Sad! and saw his sophomore album reach No. 1 this month, is awaiting trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend.


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