Spotify recently announced the platform would no longer allow songs by R. Kelly and XXXTentacion to be part of its editorial and algorithmic playlists. The women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet is now calling on the company to ban even more acts. UltraViolet’s executive director, Shaunna Thomas, penned an open letter to the Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.
“Thank you for taking the important first step of removing infamous abusers R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from your official playlists. Your action demonstrates that Spotify is following the lead of Black women who demanded that these two men, who have sexually and physically abused women for years, not be promoted and celebrated,” states the note.
Thomas also writes, “Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse. That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist.”
UltraViolet provided a list of alleged “abusers or groups of abusers.” Chris Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley of The Eagles, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Tekashi 6ix9ine and Ted Nugent were named in the letter
Spotify has stated the company plans to work with advocacy groups such as 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 help identify “hate content.” Additionally, users have been asked to flag music that may violate the new “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy.
R. Kelly and XXXTentacion have responded to being removed from Spotify’s promoted playlists. Kelly mentioned he was never convicted of a crime and doesn’t have any pending criminal charges. XXX challenged the dismissal by asking about other accused abusers like 6ix9ine, Nelly, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dr. Dre, Fabolous, and Michael Jackson.
Some observers are concerned the streaming giant’s policy could be a slippery slope to censorship. For example, Hip Hop mogul 50 Cent tweeted, “Spotify is wrong for what there doing to artist like R Kelly and xxxtentacion. There not even convicted of any thing.”