A few weeks ago Spotify started to remove artist's music from its curated playlists for their behavior in their lives outside of music. R. Kelly was one artist removed from playlists due to his history of sexual assault, and sex cult organization allegations. XXXTentacion was also removed due to his ongoing trial involving domestic abuse. While we in no way condone these behaviors, we felt that Spotify was barking up the wrong tree with their new policy.
In short – a lot of great artists also have done some pretty questionable things in the past. So who is to say that one's behavior is worthy of reprimand while other's is excusable because of the passage of time. Other critics of the policy noted artists from Dr. Dre to Led Zepplin could also technically violate the hateful conduct policy. I mean Jimmy Page was dating a 14-year-old for like A LONG TIME.
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Spotify Rescinds Hateful Conduct Policy
In a statement released Spotify summed up their decision to cancel the policy as “We don't aim to play judge and jury”. Again while Spotify had their hearts in the right place, in the end, the policy left a lot of gray areas. These gray areas, unfortunately, meant that Spotify would have to play judge, jury, and executioner. In the end, it is the public's decision to choose who they listen to, despite artist's past, present or future decisions. Read the full policy update below.
Spotify Updates Hateful Conduct Policy
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.
The second part of our policy addressed hate content. 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. We believe Spotify has an opportunity to help push the broader music community forward through conversation, collaboration and action. We’re committed to working across the artist and advocacy communities to help achieve that.