Spotify plunged itself into the center of a sensitive, industry-wide debate last month when it announced that it was starting to ban certain artists from its first-party playlists on the grounds of ‘hateful conduct’.
The controversial move saw the likes of R Kelly (pictured) and rapper XXXTentacion removed from major Spotify playlists – essentially due to allegations of serious misconduct in their personal lives.
Spotify earned some praise for the move, but plenty of backlash.
Those against the announcement including some of Spotify’s own senior executives – believed to include, according to reports, its global head of creator services Troy Carter.
Today, Spotify has officially walked back the ‘hateful conduct’ policy, which is believed to have originally been the brainchild of its public affairs boss Jonathan Prince.
However, the firm has stood by a provision, introduced at the same time, which will see music containing ‘hateful content’ – ie. lyrics which incite hate – removed from its service.
You can read the company’s full statement on the matter, issued just now (June 1), below.
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.
It’s important to note that our policy had two parts. The first was related to promotional decisions in the rare cases of the most extreme artist controversies.
“Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists. Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.”
As some have pointed out, this language was vague and left too many elements open to interpretation. We created concern that an allegation might affect artists’ chances of landing on a Spotify playlist and negatively impact their future. Some artists even worried that mistakes made in their youth would be used against them.
That’s not what Spotify is about. 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.
Our playlist editors are deeply rooted in their respective cultures, and their decisions focus on what music will positively resonate with their listeners. That can vary greatly from culture to culture, and playlist to playlist.
Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists. Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.
“That’s not what Spotify is about. We don’t aim to play judge and jury.”
The second part of our policy addressed 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. 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.
We will continue to seek ways to impact the greater good and further the industry we all care so much about. We believe Spotify has an opportunity to help push the broader music community forward through conversation, collaboration and action.
We’re committed to working across the artist and advocacy communities to help achieve that.Music Business Worldwide