Side Note

Spotify has muted R. Kelly

R. Kelly in 2016.

R. Kelly in 2016.

Ten days after members of Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement officially pledged support to #MuteRKelly, an effort to shut down the singer and alleged sexual abuser’s concerts, major streaming service Spotify has announced his work will no longer be promoted on their platform. According to a statement provided to Billboard, Kelly’s music has been removed “from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly.” (It will still be available to stream.) The move comes as part of the company’s Hate Content and Hateful Conduct policy which, on the topic of hateful behavior by artists, states:

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. 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.

While Kelly will still be able to make money off of Spotify plays, his removal from promotional playlists will undoubtedly result in financial loss. Inclusion in Spotify’s official playlists is almost a guarantee of millions of additional streams and has become an essential tool for labels looking to promote artists.

So far, Spotify is the only major streaming service that has taken action to distance itself from Kelly. Radio stations, too, have been slow to cut ties with the singer, with the exception of the Tom Joyner Morning Show which last month banned all R. Kelly music. That said, Spotify’s move is not just a hit to the industry insulation Kelly has long enjoyed; it’s a signal to other major industry entities that the risk of doing nothing about the singer may now outweighs the risk of alienating him.

Update:The New York Times reports that in addition to R.Kelly, XXXtentacion's music has been removed from official playlists as well. The Florida rapper is currently facing charges of aggravated battery, domestic battery, false imprisonment, and witness-tampering.

Listen to the conversation between Kenyette Barnes and Ann-Derrick Gaillot on The Outline World Dispatch.