Spotify removes R. Kelly's music from playlists after boycott campaign

Ruben Fields
May 16, 2018

"Thank you for taking the important first step of removing infamous abusers R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from your official playlists", the statement begins.

The calls come following Spotify's decision to remove R Kelly - who himself has been the subject of multiple sexual assault allegations - from its playlists and algorithmic recommendations as part of a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy.

She added that Spotify's action demonstrates the company "is following the lead of Black women who demanded that these two men, who have sexually and physically abused women for years, not be promoted and celebrated".

In addition to Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora have also stopped promoting Kelly's music on their curated playlists as well. We'll have to see if other artists such as XXXTentacion receive a resolution to return popular platform, but until then Spotify is reviewing everything on a "case by case" basis, making sure artists and their behavior match their editorial guidelines.

However, the group is also imploring that the policy be expanded to give the same treatment to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley, Steven Tyler, 6ix9ine and Chris Brown - acts that have been accused of abusing or harassing women.

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Lady Gaga, Dame Judi Dench, David Harewood and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill also featured in the minute message. Prince Harry adds: "If you do have the courage to speak about it, you really can make things better".

Aside from R. Kelly, Spotify also pulled XXXTentacion, now awaiting trial on domestic violence charges.

Kelly, 51, one of the most successful R&B singers of the past 20 years, has been the object of an online #MuteRKelly boycott campaign that gained momentum last week when it was adopted by the Time's Up movement against sexual harassment.

As we noted last week though, this is nothing new, with artists such as Lostprophets and Rolf Harris having had their work "disappeared" by music retailers and services in the past. "Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit".

"R. Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire", the statement read.

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