It was only last month that streaming giant Spotify announced a pioneering new policy to remove artists like R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from its internally-curated playlists. This move was made as part of the company’s new hate content and hateful conduct policy, which aimed to ensure that Spotify did not promote content that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.”
Though this was heralded by many as a positive step made by the music streaming platform, others pointed out the obvious flaws in the plan – that it was possibly unfeasible for Spotify to remove the content of every single artist who’s been accused of violence, assault and misconduct. Now, less than a month after Spotify enforced its hateful conduct policy, it’s decided to pull the plug on the entire strategy, as detailed in the official statement 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. 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.
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.
It’s worth noting that Spotify has also re-added the music of XXXTentacion to one if its high-profile playlists, too. Stay tuned for further updates on the situation, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.