Spotify makes U-turn on policy

NEW YORK • Spotify no longer wants to play judge and jury.

Over the weekend, it said it will rescind a new policy on "hateful conduct" by artists after an uproar among people in the music industry. They had protested that the ill-defined guidelines represented a form of censorship.

While Spotify added that it remains committed to removing what it called hate content - music meant to incite hatred or violence, like neo-Nazi songs - it is "moving away" from the second part of its policy, which addressed the behaviour of artists beyond what they sing or rap about.

When the policy was introduced three weeks ago, it was the second part, on artists' conduct, that immediately became controversial.

Complicating the issue further, the conduct policy - which removed offending artists' music from Spotify's playlists, but did not delete it from the service entirely - was initially applied to only two artists - R. Kelly and XXXTentacion.

R&B singer Kelly has been accused of decades of sexual misconduct while XXXTentacion, a chart-topping young rapper, faces charges in Florida, including beating a pregnant woman.

A representative for XXXTentacion had asked why Spotify was not also punishing 19 other artists who had been accused over the years of sexual misconduct or physical violence, such as Dr Dre, Michael Jackson and Gene Simmons.

At the same time, Ultraviolet, a women's advocacy group, called for more action against artists such as rappers Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting then girlfriend Rihanna, and Eminem, whose lyrics have been criticised as encouraging violence against women.

With the U-turn, XXXTentacion's music may soon return to Spotify's playlists, but the company is not expected to promote Kelly.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2018, with the headline 'Spotify makes U-turn on policy'. Print Edition | Subscribe