The women’s rights organization UltraViolet penned a letter to Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek applauding the company for taking steps to scrub abusers from its platform, following last week’s announcement that R. Kelly, XXXTentacion, Tay-K, and others would be removed from official playlists.
“Thank you for taking the important first step of removing infamous abusers R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from your official playlists,” the letter reads. “Your action demonstrates that Spotify is following the lead of Black women who demanded that these two men, who have sexually and physically abused women for years, not be promoted and celebrated.”
The organization, founded in 2012, is also calling on Spotify to go one step further and remove other notable artists responsible for known or alleged abuse. The list includes Chris Brown, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley, Steven Tyler, and 6ix9ine.
“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,” the letter states. “That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist.”
UltraViolet’s executive director Shaunna Thomas hopes that Spotify’s expansion of its hate content and hateful conduct policy will permeate onto other streaming platforms. “We publish this as an open letter because we hope other platforms like iTunes, Google Play Music, and Pandora will continue to follow your lead,” she wrote.
In a statement shared with Billboard, Spotify announces its decision to pull R. Kelly from its playlists last week. "We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly," Spotify wrote. "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."
In response, Kelly's team shared a statement with BuzzFeed News denouncing the move. "Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit. It is acting based on false and unproven allegations," the statement read. "It is bowing to social-media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute over matters that have nothing to do with serving customers."