Spotify cuts R. Kelly music from playlists, cites new policy

Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California November 24, 2013. (Reuters)
Updated 12 May 2018
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Spotify cuts R. Kelly music from playlists, cites new policy

  • R. Kelly's music will remain available to stream, Spotify will no longer promote it.
  • The artist’s management critisized the move in a statement, “R. Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire.”

NEW YORK: Spotify has removed R. Kelly’s music from its playlists, presenting its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct.
R. Kelly’s music is no longer available on the app’s owned playlists and algorithmic suggestions, according to a spokesperson on Thursday. Although his music will remain available to stream, Spotify will no longer promote it.
The artist’s management critisized the move in a statement, “R. Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire.” It read, “Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.”
Hateful conduct is defined as “something that is especially harmful or hateful,” such as violence against children and sexual violence, in spotify’s new policy.
It’s another blow for the R&B superstar, who has been battling allegations that he has sexually abused women for decades. While Kelly has denied the allegations and was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges, recent attention and a #MuteRKelly campaign has put the singer, songwriter and producer under more scrutiny. He was recently dropped from a concert in his hometown of Chicago, and there is pressure to cancel a Friday concert in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In a statement, the founders of the #MuteRKelly movement applauded Spotify’s move.
“It is important that those who market the work of problematic entertainers stand, in the end, with their company’s collective values,” it read in part. “We find this decision by Spotify a victory, and is just another step in our mission to Mute. R. Kelly.”
In its policy, Spotify made it clear that it doesn’t tolerate “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.”
Kelly’s music doesn’t apply — it’s been defined by its explicit sexual nature — but he’s also written love ballads, pop songs and even gospel music.
However, the new policy also delves into an artist’s behavior.
“While we don’t believe in censoring content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values,” the statement said. “So, in some circumstances, 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.”
The policy will apply to songs R. Kelly performs on as a solo artist or with other artists, like “Same Girl,” which he wrote for Usher. But songs he wrote for other acts like Michael Jackson will not be affected.
Kelly’s management says while it’s gratified that Spotify didn’t completely remove him from Spotify, it said it is acting on “false and unproven accusations” and succumbing to social media pressure. It also noted that it still promotes music from acts that are felons and who have been arrested or convicted of violence against women, and songs that promote violence against women and misogyny.
Kelly isn’t the only artist affected by the policy. Rapper XXXtentacion, who is awaiting trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend, has also been removed from Spotify’s playlists.
However, there are myriad other artists who in theory could be subject to the policy. Chris Brown is featured in several Spotify-created playlists; he pleaded guilty to an attack on Rihanna several years ago. And there are a multitude of songs from artists in different genres that could be construed as hateful.
Spotify said it worked with several groups to create its policy, including GLAAD, the Anti-Defamation League and The Southern Poverty Law Center. It has also created what it calls an internal monitoring tool to identify content flagged as hateful and has asked users for their help as well.
GLAAD Director of Entertainment Media Jeremy Blacklow called the policy “a strong step in creating a platform that encourages what most music fans want today — music and artists that reflect diverse voices and foster respect for everyone.”
“Content that emboldens hatred or violence against marginalized communities, as well as artists who engage in harmful conduct, are not worthy of being showcased,” Blacklow said in a statement.


Royals Harry and Meghan go barefoot on Bondi

Despite morning fog, the pair met local surfers enjoying winter swells. (AP)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Royals Harry and Meghan go barefoot on Bondi

  • Pre-prepared signs screaming “G’day Harry and Meghan” greeted the royal couple

SYDNEY: British royals Harry and Meghan kicked off their shoes and donned tropical garlands Friday, as they hit Sydney’s famed Bondi beach for the latest stop on their Australian tour.
Expectant Meghan donned a summer dress, putting aside her high heels, while Harry ditched his usual suit for chinos as the couple lapped up cheers from Australian fans and enjoyed Bondi’s surf.
Despite morning fog, the pair met local surfers enjoying winter swells and sat down on the sand for a long chat with leaders of the OneWave group, which focuses on helping people improve mental health by getting outdoors.
Pre-prepared signs screaming “G’day Harry and Meghan” greeted the royal couple, who have received a warm welcome from fans throughout the start of their 16-day pacific tour.
While half of Australians oppose having British monarchs as head of state, and the vast majority of Australians have carried on with business as usual during the visit, there has been sizable support for the celebrity couple at every stop.
News that the Duchess of Sussex is pregnant has only made the crowds swell.
Amid a torrent of fawning press coverage declaring Meghan the “Queen of hugs” and the prince receiving “buckets of love,” the Australian Republican Movement is putting on a brave face.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very welcome visitors” the group said at the start of the trip, pointedly adding that “Australians of all ages know the difference between this wonderful event and the questions of our nation’s identity and future.”
In a 1999 referendum, 55 percent of Australians voted against replacing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, although polls indicate support for republicanism has grown since then.
The opposition Labor party has promised a plebiscite on the issue if it wins a general election expected in 2019.