Spotify Removes R. Kelly From Its Playlists After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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R. Kelly performs during the Holiday Jam at Fox Theater on December 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. Prince Williams/WireImage

Updated at 6:00 p.m. ET: R. Kelly’s management team responded to Spotify’s decision to remove his music from its playlists in a statement to Us Weekly. “We appreciate Spotify for continuing to make R. Kelly’s songs accessible to millions of people, although it will stop listing his songs on its official playlists. Spotify is adopting a new ‘Hate Content & Hateful Conduct’ policy. R Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire,” the statement reads. “Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.”

The statement continues, “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. 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. Meanwhile, though, Spotify promotes numerous other artists who are convicted felons, others who have been arrested on charges of domestic violence and artists who sing lyrics that are violent and anti-women in nature. Mr. Kelly falls into none of these categories, and it is unfortunate and shortsighted that Spotify fails to recognize this.”

Spotify announced on Thursday, May 10, that the company removed R. Kelly’s music from its playlists following allegations of sexual misconduct.

“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” the streaming giant said in a statement to Billboard. “His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. 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.”

The move comes as Spotify puts a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy in place. The singer’s music was not removed from the platform — only from its playlists. The policy not only applies to artists’ conduct but also to hate content. So far, Kelly is the only artist Spotify has publicly mentioned as being affected by the change.

“When we look at promotion, we look at issues around hateful conduct, where you have an artist or another creator who has done 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,” Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s head of content and marketplace policy, explained to Billboard. “So we’ve decided that in some circumstances, we may choose to not work with that artist or their content in the same way — to not program it, to not playlist it, to not do artist marketing campaigns with that artist.”

Kelly, 51, was accused of holding young women in an abusive “cult” in July 2017. “He controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records,” a BuzzFeed report alleged at the time. Two more women came forward with allegations of sexual abuse earlier this month. The musician’s reps denied the “many dark descriptions put forth by instigators and liars who have their own agenda for seeking profit and fame” in a statement to BuzzFeed.

The “Ignition” singer has faced sexual misconduct allegations since the ‘90s. He married then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in 1994. He was also acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 after he was accused of making a sex tape with a 14-year-old girl.

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