Spotify to review its 'hateful conduct' policy following industry criticism

Streaming platform will reinstate XXXTentacion’s music to playlists after artists including Kendrick Lamar threaten to pull their work

Two weeks after Spotify removed music by R Kelly and rapper XXXTentacion from its editorial playlists, in accordance with its new “hateful conduct” policy, the streaming platform will restore music by the latter in response to a backlash from the industry and its own staff.

Spotify announced the “hate conduct and hateful conduct” policy on 10 May, explaining it wouldn’t censor content because of an artist’s behaviour, but that its “editorial decisions” should reflect the company’s values: “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”

Representatives for acts including rapper Kendrick Lamar called Spotify chief executive officer Daniel Ek and head of artist relations Troy Carter to express their frustration with the policy and threaten to pull their music from the platform, Bloomberg reports.

‘Listen to this album if you want to feel anything’ ... Kendrick Lamar has previously tweeted in praise of XXXTentacion’s music.
‘Listen to this album if you want to feel anything’ ... Kendrick Lamar had previously tweeted in praise of XXXTentacion’s music. Photograph: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

Spotify is reportedly in discussion with the music industry and civil rights activists about how to adjust its rules following concern that the first acts affected were black men, while the music of white men with violent histories remained on editorial playlists.

The policy has also reportedly created tension within Spotify. Sources told Billboard that Carter threatened to leave the company over the policy but has said he will stay following assurances from Ek that it will be changed.

XXXTentacion, AKA Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, is a 20-year-old rapper from Florida who is awaiting trial over charges of aggravated battery against a pregnant woman and witness tampering. The allegations have not affected his success: his second album, released in March, reached No 1 on the US Billboard chart and No 3 on the UK album chart.

Despite criticism of its new policy policy, Spotify has said it has no plans to reinstate promotion of R Kelly’s music amid ongoing allegations of sexual misconduct against the R&B singer.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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