As you might have heard by now, R&B singer R. Kelly has allegedly done some pretty heinous shit over the course of his career. The singer married Alliyah when she was 15, was caught on video performing sex acts on another underage woman, and more recently, has been accused of essentially running a sex cult in which women are kidnapped, brainwashed, and held at some of the homes he owns. So far, his career hasn’t suffered, nor has he been officially charged with anything. However, if you’re looking for him on a Spotify playlist, as of now, you won’t find him on there. The streaming service has announced that they’ve removed his music from all playlists and algorithmic recommendations as well. You’ll still be able to search for – and listen to – his music on the service, but you’ll have to know what you’re looking for. Rapper XXXTentacion has also had his music removed, due to being arrested in 2016 on charges including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. Here’s what Spotify said in a statement about their removal of Kelly’s work:
“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.”
New York Times reporter Joe Coscarelli reported on the story, and XXXTentacion’s team responded by asking if artists including Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons of KISS, David Bowie, Michael Jackson and others would be removed from playlists:
a response from XXXTentacion’s team on Spotify’s decision to remove him from playlists pic.twitter.com/ivtEDJ2yGS
— Joe Coscarelli (@joecoscarelli) May 10, 2018
It’s a semi-valid question, and Spotify said that they’d be making decisions on a case by case basis. It’s hard to imagine them pulling Bowie and Michael Jackson from playlists. However, if they do go down that road, that opens up a can of worms. Marilyn Manson, Lostprophets, Static-X, and Ted Nugent could be pulled from playlists because of physical or sexual assault of women. Marduk, Taake and hell, even Motorhead could be pulled because Nazi imagery that could be thought of as representative of their beliefs. It’ll be interesting to see how this is enforced, and again, this isn’t stopping you from searching the artists themselves, but it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.