As of May 10, Spotify has removed all R. Kelly and XXXTentacion music from any editorial or algorithmic playlists, Billboard and The New York Times reports. The transition comes as the music streaming service has just implemented a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy.
"We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly," Spotify told Billboard 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."
Now, representatives for both R. Kelly and XXXTentacion have responded to Spotify's decision. In a lengthy statement release on Thursday, Kelly's management said: "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."
As for XXXTentacion, the 20 year old rapper's team called into question Spotify's decision, citing a list of a dozen other mainstream artists who have been accused of crimes in the same vein of his and R. Kelly's. XXXTentacion has been charged with multiple felonies for allegedly beating and strangling his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend in 2016. He has also been accused of false imprisonment and witness tampering and faces up to 30 years in prison.
R. Kelly has been accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct in recent years, including sexual violence, coercion, and running what has been referred to as a "sex cult." While no convictions have been issued to date, these allegations have surfaced from multiple women. As it stands, Kelly and XXXTentacion are the only musician that Spotify specifically called out under its newly implemented policy.
"When we look at promotion, we look at issues around hateful conduct, where you have an artist or another creator who has done something off-platform that is so particularly out of line with our values, egregious, in a way that it becomes something that we don't want to associate ourselves with," Jonathan Prince, Spotify's head of content and marketplace policy, added. "So we've decided that in some circumstances, we may choose to not work with that artist or their content in the same way -- to not program it, to not playlist it, to not do artist marketing campaigns with that artist."
According to the policy, "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."
For more on XXXTentacion, read our op-ed asking whether or not he should have been included in XXL's 2017 Freshman Class right here.
Now, watch Vince Staples call R. Kelly a "piece of fucking shit" during an interview at Coachella.