Women’s advocacy group Ultraviolet wants Spotify to extend its artist ban beyond R. Kelly and XXXTentacion to other musicians who have been accused of sexual misconduct, including Chris Brown, Nelly, Eminem, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Don Henley, Steven Tyler and 6ix9ine.
“[These] two men are not the only abusers on your platform. We implore you to take a deeper look at the artists you promote,” the organization’s executive director Shaunna Thomas wrote in an open letter Monday to Spotify head Daniel Ek. “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,” the group wrote. “That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist.”
Last week, Spotify announced a new policy to curb 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 change went into effect following a #MuteRKelly social media movement sparked by the multiple allegations of sex abuse against the artist. Spotify no longer actively promotes the artist’s music, though the songs are still available on the service.
As of May 10, Kelly’s music was no longer be available on the site’s editorial or algorithmic playlists, including Discover Weekly, New Music Friday, RapCaviar and any of the platform’s popular genre- or mood-based playlists.
Apple Music and Pandora followed suit.
The Grammy-winning artist has been accused of many crimes over the years and allegedly “held women against their will in a cult” at his homes in two cities, including one in metro Atlanta. He has denied the accusations and is currently not facing any charges. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted on 14 charges of making child pornography.
In a statement to Billboard, Spotify said, "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, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."
In response to the platform changes, Kelly’s team told BuzzFeed News that Spotify’s “actions are without merit” and are “based on false and unproven allegations.”
Some of the musicians listed by Ultraviolet have been accused of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or domestic violence, but not all of them have been charged with a crime.
The group, which was founded in 2012, applauded Spotify’s hate content and hateful conduct policy and hopes the open letter will urge other streaming platforms to follow Spotify’s lead.
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