The rollout for Spotify's new "hate content and hateful conduct" policy could have been handled better, the streaming provider's CEO conceded Wednesday.
"The whole goal with this was to make sure that we didn't have hate speech," Daniel Ek said during a Code Conference Q&A session, according to Variety. "It was never about punishing one individual artist or even naming one individual artist." The new policy, announced earlier this month, ultimately resulted in the removal of XXXTentacion and R. Kelly from Spotify playlists. X's music was ultimately reinstated for playlist placement, while Kelly's was not. "We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job," Ek said.
In the original news release announcing the policy on May 9, a Spotify spokesperson expressed the company's commitment to "the entire context" of the content that could potentially be affected. "It's important to us that our values are reflected in all the work that we do, whether it's distribution, promotion, or content creation," the rep said at the time. "At the same time, however, it's important to remember that cultural standards and sensitivities vary widely." Though Ek confirmed Wednesday that the policy at large was still in place, he noted that revisions are possible in the future.
The policy inspired a mixed reaction among listeners, artists, and industry veterans alike. In a Bloomberg report published two weeks after the policy launched, alleged "internal dissent" about the rollout was revealed. Others, including Top Dawg boss Terrence "Punch" Henderson, likened the policy to censorship.