Kizzie Frank - Arts & Entertainment Editor
Spotify recently stopped promotions on XXXtentacion and R Kelly, removing the artists’ music from popular playlists on the streaming service and; the policy brought out a few concerns in the music industry. Kendrick Lamar’s record label, Top Dawg, threatened to remove the musician's stating that it was to "censor" artists. Top Dawg CEO, Anthony Tiffith, warned that other artists may begin to follow suit if the policy had not been adjusted. and that the hip-hop community was being targeted. "[Spotify's] intentions were good in terms of what they were trying to do, but it just came across wrong," he said.
XXXtentacion’s song, SAD!, was included on Rap Caviar just recently and some are wondering if R. Kelly's will be included on playlists as well. Spotify published an article agreeing that their policy was "too vague" and that they are deciding to shy away from the artist conduct portion of the Hateful Content Policy:
"As some have pointed out, this language was vague and left too many elements open to interpretation...We don’t aim to play judge and jury. We aim to connect artists and fans...Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists. Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct." - Spotify's updated policy (6.1.18)
It is not to be confused, also, that the policy simply stated the streaming service would not promote an artist who had exhibited hateful behavior. It did not state, however, that their music would be totally removed from the site. The part of the policy that rejects hateful speech regarding race, gender, sexuality, disability, or religion is still in place.
Could an artist removing themselves from a streaming service be a double edged sword? On one hand it is to prove a point that censorship is not to be accepted, and on the other the artist essentially censors themselves. There is a fine line between freedom of expression and a company’s duties to artists. A store such as Walmart is not particularly required to advertise one brand or the other (unless there was some sort of contract of course). Some have accused Spotify’s behavioral policy as too vague. Some want to know how the company decides to promote one artist over the other and if "hateful" actions in an artist's youth would effect how their music is shared on the platform as well. Furthermore, there is still a number of other streaming services such as, Jay Z's, Tidal, who favor hip hop music.