As of today (May 10), R. Kelly’s music will no longer be included on Spotify’s editorial or algorithmic playlists. The decision comes under a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy created in a partnership with Color of Change. The policy will not only end promotion of Kelly’s music, but also remove his songs from Discover Weekly, New Music Friday, and other branded playlists.
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify writes in a statement to Billboard. “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.”
While R. Kelly was initially the only artist acknowledged, Pitchfork reports that XXXTentacion—who has faced public scrutiny amid domestic violence allegations, as well as accusations of hitting a fan in the head—will also have his music removed from the playlists mentioned above.
The decision is a long time coming following years of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations against Kelly. Last year, an investigative report published by Buzzfeed brought Kelly complaints back to the forefront, detailing a sex “cult” in which he was reportedly holding teenage girls against their will. Last month, a 20-year-old woman from Dallas claimed that she was manipulated by the singer and knowingly given a sexually transmitted disease. And in the most recent turn of events surrounding the R&B singer, eight women came forward (four of whom had not previously gone public, as noted by Pitchfork) regarding Kelly’s alleged predatory behavior.
“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, tells Billboard. “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.”
R. Kelly’s team continues to deny recent allegations, with his management team stating as recently as May 4: “All of the women targeted by the current media onslaught are legal adults of sound mind and body, with their own free will.” On April 29, after the curtains were pulled on his UIC Pavilion show in Chicago, Kelly shared an Instagram video in which he stated he “didn’t know why” his show had been canceled.