Music streaming service Spotify initiates censorship against R. Kelly and XXXTentacion
19 May 2018
On May 10, global music streaming platform Spotify began a regime of censorship against artists it accuses of “Hateful Conduct.” The same day, singers Robert “R.” Kelly and Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy (known as XXXTentacion) became its first targets.
Under the new policy, Spotify will censor music that “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.” Moreover, the announcement goes on, “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
The same day, the company wrote in a statement, “We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations.” In other words, Spotify’s users will still find works by Kelly if they search for them by name, but the same works are cut off from a wider audience who are not already fans.
Spotify claims that this does not constitute censorship. “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,” they write. This is both dishonest and hypocritical.
Following the news of Spotify’s actions, competitor Pandora Radio (81 million users) announced that it would also begin removing Kelly’s songs from parts of its platform. And Apple Music (40 million subscribers), it was later revealed,…