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Campaigners call on Spotify to ban more artists over ‘hateful conduct’

By | Published on Tuesday 15 May 2018


With the canned worms now well and truly on the plate, a women’s advocacy group has called on Spotify to remove yet more music from its playlists. In an open letter, Ultraviolet lists eight other men it believes the streaming service should stop promoting, because of rumours, reports and/or – in some cases – actual convictions of physical and/or sexual abuse against women.

Spotify, of course, last week confirmed that it would no longer playlist music by R Kelly in light of the various allegations of sexual abuse that have been made against him over the years. Rapper XXXTentacion, whose most controversial run-in with the law to date relates to allegations he assaulted a pregnant woman, has also been removed for Spotify’s curated lists.

Those two bans were instigated as the streaming firm launched a new policy over what it calls ‘hate content’ and ‘hateful conduct’. The former relates to songs that are deemed hateful, while the latter is about the conduct of the artists behind a track.

In an open letter to Spotify boss Daniel Ek, women’s advocacy group Ultraviolet states that “on behalf of our one million members, we applaud and support this choice”. The organisation added that it was publishing an open letter to Ek in a bid to encourage his rivals to follow Spotify’s lead.

However, the letter goes on: “As you know, these two men are not the only abusers on your platform. We implore you to take a deeper look at the artists you promote. Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse. That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist”.

The letter then identifies eight alleged abusers in particular, though notes it is by no means a comprehensive list. But the artists the letter calls out include: Chris Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley, Steven Tyler, Tekashi 6ix9ine and Ted Nugent.

Spotify’s decision to start it’s ‘hateful conduct’ removals with R Kelly is interesting because, while there have been numerous allegations against him – and those allegations are newsworthy at the moment – he hasn’t actually been convicted of any crimes. Indeed, the one time he was prosecuted, he was acquitted.

This means that, by picking Kelly first, Spotify arguably sets wider parameters for the kinds of artists who might be deemed to fall foul of the company’s hateful conduct policy. It remains to be seen how Spotify responds to these new calls to expand its playlisting ban.