In compliance with Spotify’s new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy, the streaming service has removed music from R. Kelly from all “Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” as reported by Billboard. As The New York Times reports, controversial rapper XXXTentacion "was also removed from playlists as of Thursday" in addition to Kelly.
Both artists’ music will remain on the streaming platform itself; however, when we consider how career-making a playlist placement can be in 2018, Spotify's new policy will undoubtedly be a major blow to both artists and their future offenders.
“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,” the Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy states. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
We also see Spotify defining “hate content” as “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.” The policy notes that as cultural values and sensitivities vary, they will be paying close attention to the context of the music before taking action.
Of course, the line between the moral good and censorship is thin, and while Spotify attests that they do not censor content, we cannot help but be cautiously optimistic that their retooling of editorial direction does not end up doing more harm than good.