Spotify axes R Kelly from playlists amid backlash

R&B singer R Kelly’s music will no longer feature on Spotify’s curated playlists under the streaming service’s new policy on hate content and hateful conduct.

On Thursday, the music app said it would no longer promote the I Believe I Can Fly singer’s songs in its editorial or algorithmic playlists.

It comes following a string of sexual misconduct allegations against the 51-year-old, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Spotify told Billboard: “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 programme – 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.”

Image: Campaigners have called for R Kelly’s concerts to be cancelled

The move comes in the midst of the #MuteRKelly social media campaign, which has called for R Kelly’s music to stop being played and his concerts to be cancelled.

Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement has also put pressure on the singer, demanding “appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R Kelly’s abuse made by women and their families for more than two decades”.

Among the allegations against him are claims he kept women as part of a “sex cult”, which he has also denied.

Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s head of content and marketplace policy, told Billboard the company may choose not promote artists that did not adhere to its values.

“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,” he said.

“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 programme it, to not playlist it, to not do artist marketing campaigns with that artist.”

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Although R Kelly is the only artist Spotify has acknowledged, other artists may also be affected, with it implementing a reporting system for “hate content” and “hate conduct”.

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The policy defines hate content as 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”.

A spokesperson for R Kelly did not immediately respond to news agency requests for comment.

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