Top Dawg Threatened Spotify with TDE Catalog Removal: "I Was Willing to Get the Whole Culture to Back Out"

“Nobody agrees with censorship like that.”

Spotify’ Hateful Conduct policy has caused a stir both online and behind the scenes, with reports of various artists and artists’ teams threatening to pull their music if the music of affected artists (R. Kelly, XXXTentacion) was not restored to Spotify’s playlists. 

One of the biggest players here was TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, who, as he revealed to Billboard, threatened to pull the Top Dawg Entertainment catalog if this policy were not reversed.

"My whole thing with them was, we gotta fix this situation, and if it can't be fixed, then there's gonna be a real problem, we're gonna have to start pulling our music from the site," Top told Billboard's Dan Rys. "I was willing to get the whole culture to back out. There were other people in the business, other powerful artists that were willing to back what I was saying, because nobody agrees with censorship like that.”

Tiffith goes on to say that he appreciates and understands the intentions of the Spotify team and their efforts to take a stance on their platform. However, he also decries the policy as censorship several times throughout the interview, which, if we are being pedantic, the policy was not. Spotify’s editorial choice to remove artists from their playlists—not the platform itself—does not qualify as censorship. A playlist removal can undoubtedly do damage to an upstart career, but it does not suppress the content itself nor make it inaccessible, the key ingredients for censorship.

Even so, Top Dawg’s threats and the larger outcry from the community has led to Spotify rolling back the policy entirely

Is there a potential middle ground between the “vague wording” Spotify cites as their reasoning for the rollback and all together killing the policy? Certainly, but it seems we are a long ways off from a perfect solution.