Spotify is removing controversial artists from curated playlists

Spotify is implementing a new policy that removes controversial artists’ music from the streaming service's editorial or algorithmic playlists, the company announced today, starting with music from R&B artist R. Kelly.

It’s part of Spotify’s new hate content and hateful conduct policy that will prevent controversial artists and those accused of crimes from being shown on any playlist owned by Spotify. 

That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find R. Kelly’s music on Spotify necessarily - it’s still there - however you’ll no longer hear it on playlists like New Music Friday, Rap Caviar or suggested to you on your Daily Mix. 

Spotify’s new policy comes during a time where the hashtag #MuteRKelly is trending on social networks and is a response to the historic #MeToo movement that seeks to bring awareness and support to those who have been sexually abused or harassed.

So far, Kelly is the only artist that Spotify specifically acknowledged would fall under this new public policy, though the service tells Billboard that other artists may also be affected. 

Who else will Spotify drop? 

Spotify wants to be careful about who it puts into the category of hate content and hateful conduct and will therefore be working with institutions like The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, Color Of Change, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), GLAAD, Muslim Advocates and the International Network Against Cyber Hate, to determine which artists should face similar consequences.

That being said, some media outlets are questioning why Kelly was the first to be targeted, and one of only two targets with the other being Florida rapper XXXTentacion. Some members of Red Hot Chili Peppers have been accused of similar crimes, as have Chris Brown, CeeLo Green and Tupac Shakur. 

Will Spotify take action against these artists as well?

“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,” Spotify told Billboard in a statement. “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.”

Spotify is the first service to create a policy that directly affects artists who are under fire for sexual misconduct - does that mean Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal and others are close behind? We’ll find out.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.