Spotify Officially Cancels Hateful Conduct Policy Amid Backlash

"We don’t aim to play judge and jury. We aim to connect artists and fans," Spotify said in a statement.

A little over three weeks after Spotify first introduced its new hate content and hateful conduct policy, which saw music by R. Kelly, XXXTentacion and Tay-K being removed from the platform’s popular curated playlists like Rap Caviar, the music giant is rolling back the policy and admitting they bungled its release. Several people, including 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar, criticized Spotify’s decision, while Spotify’s CEO himself recently admitted that the policy could’ve been rolled out better. Today, the company released a statement online to address the concerns and announce its decision to distance itself from certain parts of the initial policy. 

The policy had two parts: hateful conduct and hateful content. As it was first explained, Spotify would cease marketing and promotional deals as well as remove songs from their playlists, by artists who did “something off-platform that is so particularly out of line with our values, egregious, in a way that it becomes something that we don't want to associate ourselves with.” This apparently included the litany of sexual misconduct allegations against R. Kelly, XXXTentacion's complicated legal issues, and Tay-K’s murder charges. However, Spotify now admits this would’ve been too difficult to implement across the board.  

“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,” Spotify wrote in the statement. 

Spotify admits that the language in their policy announcement around what would determine promotional decisions based on “extreme artist controversies” was too vague and created room for allegations to “affect artists’ chances of landing on a Spotify playlist and negatively impact their future.”

“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,” the statement continued. “Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists. Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.”

Furthermore, the second half of the policy related to 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,” the statement read. “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.”

Billboard notes that there is currently still no R. Kelly music on any of Spotify’s playlists, though the platform had already signaled that it would soften its stance against XXXTentacion. 

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