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Spotify reportedly backtracking on ‘hateful conduct’ policy

By | Published on Friday 25 May 2018


Spotify seems to be back-tracking on its new ‘hateful conduct’ policy, with Bloomberg reporting that the streaming service plans to restore XXXTentacion’s music back to its in-house playlists.

Spotify recently announced its new policy on ‘hate content’ and ‘hateful conduct’, of course. The first part is more clear cut, with the streaming service committing to remove tracks that overtly abuse or discriminate against others. The latter part is more difficult to define though, with the company saying that it will stop promoting – and potentially remove entirely – music by artists who have acted inappropriately outside the creation of their music.

The first artists to fall foul of this were R Kelly and XXXTentacion, both of whom were removed from the service’s playlists. Kelly, of course, is currently facing a renewed onslaught of sexual abuse allegations, following numerous others made during his career. XXXTentacion meanwhile is awaiting trial for the alleged battery of a pregnant woman.

Neither of the men has any conviction as yet for the crimes they are accused of – and the one time Kelly did go to court in 2008, he was acquitted. Spotify’s policy was implemented as the #MuteRKelly campaign, which calls for corporate boycotts of him and his music, gained traction. And many did praise the move by Spotify, although it was also criticised by others. Campaigners have also called for the company to cut out other artists accused – or in some cases convicted – of crimes such as sexual abuse and violence against women.

XXXTentacion himself responded to news he had been dropped from Spotify’s playlists with a list of other artists who have faced similar accusations to him.

Now, according to sources who have spoken to Bloomberg, Spotify has said behind the scenes that it will restore XXXTentacion’s music to its playlists at some point in the future – although there are apparently no plans to do the same for Kelly. Those sources say that, despite Spotify publicly announcing the policy already, the details are still being hashed out internally and its exact stand on what it deems ‘hateful conduct’ hasn’t yet been entirely firmed up.

It’s certainly no secret that there arguments over the policy within Spotify. It had been rumoured that high profile Spotify exec Troy Carter had quit the company in protest. He denied this to the LA Times last week, although admitted that there had been a disagreement over it.

“Spotify is one of those companies where we debate about everything just because it’s such a diverse company”, he told the newspaper. “Everybody has different point of views. Everybody has different backgrounds. [The policy is] still a work in progress”.

The now seemingly wishy-washy implementation of the policy will further antagonise those artists, labels and managers who complained that they were not informed of the move before it was announced earlier this month.

It also highlights the difficulty Spotify faces in policing the lyrics and conduct of the artists whose music is featured on its platform. Many have accused the company of attempting to act as judge and jury on allegations made against artists, and it would appear that it is not entirely comfortable finding itself in that position.