Spotify Reverses Controversial ‘Hateful Conduct’ Ban After Backlash
After being criticized for a seemingly rushed and vague ban, streaming giant Spotify is now backpedaling on its “hateful conduct” policy. Since launching in 2008, Spotify which specializes in music, podcasts and video streaming, has amassed 70 million paying subscribers worldwide. Initially, Spotify said it would penalize artist for “hate conduct” by removing them from their playlists and discovery algorithms.
At the time, Chicago singer R. Kelly and Florida rapper XXXTentacion were singled out as having violated the policy. R. Kelly has faced decades of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct allegations while XXXTentacion has been charged with aggravated battery of his pregnant then-girlfriend. The policy was met with harsh criticism from the recording industry. Rapper 50 Cent said,
Spotify is wrong for what there doing to artist like R. Kelly and XXXTentacion. There not even convicted of anything.
Kendrick Lamar’s label, Top Dawg Entertainment, also expressed concern over Spotify singling out hip-hop artist for penalties. Last week, Lamar reportedly threatened to remove his music from the streaming service if they did not reverse the decision on XXXTentacion. The CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment stated,
How come they didn’t pick out any others from any other genres or any other cultures? There are so many other artist that have different things going on, and they could’ve picked anybody. But it seems to me that they’re constantly picking on hip-hop culture.
The backlash was loud and raised concern for Spotify define guidelines. Buckling to the pressure, Spotify changed course with another policy update,
Spotify recently shared a new policy around hate content and conduct. And 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.
In an attempt to clean up the image of the policy, Spotify came off to some as targeting urban artist.
We created concern that an allegation might affect artist’ chances of landing on a Spotify playlist and negatively impact their future. Some artist even worried that mistakes made in their youth would be used against them. That’s not what Spotify is about.
The streaming service will continue to enforce a policy to remove hate content, defined as content whose,
principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their religion, race, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Spotify clarified that “offensive, explicit, or vulgar content” does not violate its terms.
Spotify now claims it does not want to regulate artist. “We don’t aim to play judge and jury,” the statement read. If the streaming giant really wants to impact greater good in the music industry, this is a better start than last months attempt.