Spotify are backing away from the controversial policy which saw the music of acts such as R. Kelly and XXXTentacion effectively demoted on the platform.
As reported, new guidelines were introduced which sought to de-emphasize the work of artists with problematic practises. Though stopping short of removing said material, the streaming leader revealed that content from such musicians would be banned from any of their promoted playlists.
While welcomed in some corners, it proved a sore spot for many (even critics of said acts) who wondered aloud who’d be deciding what constituted troublesome behaviour and what the criteria was when picking the artists.
Now, in a stunning move, Spotify are disassociating with the move (which initially came on the heels of the #MuteRKelly movement. A movement which took aim with the countless allegations of sexual assault Kelly has dodged over the years).
Issued today, the company’s statement read:
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.
It’s important to note that our policy had two parts. The first was related to promotional decisions in the rare cases of the most extreme artist controversies. As some have pointed out, this language was vague and left too many elements open to interpretation. We created concern that an allegation might affect artists’ chances of landing on a Spotify playlist and negatively impact their future. Some artists even worried that mistakes made in their youth would be used against them.
That’s not what Spotify is about. We don’t aim to play judge and jury. We aim to connect artists and fans – and Spotify playlists are a big part of how we do that. Our playlist editors are deeply rooted in their respective cultures, and their decisions focus on what music will positively resonate with their listeners. That can vary greatly from culture to culture, and playlist to playlist. Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists. Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.
As it continued, it asserted a firm stance however on hate speech:
Spotify does not permit content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As we’ve done before, we will remove content that violates that standard. We’re not talking about offensive, explicit, or vulgar content – we’re talking about hate speech.
We will continue to seek ways to impact the greater good and further the industry we all care so much about.
While Spotify’s intent with the initial policy seemed to be rooted in the “right” sentiment, it arguably misstepped majorly by not looking at the broader picture.
More acts than we can list have problematic pasts, presents, and sadly futures. But it’s tricky terrain pressing the “exclusion” button because it starts the “but, what about x, y, z” chain of commentary.
Make no mistake, bad behaviour should never be rewarded. And, from where we’re standing, record labels would be better served to be the primary issuers of ramifications. Think ABC‘s recent dropping of ‘Roseanne’– despite being one of their biggest money makers.