Spotify CEO Says R. Kelly + XXXTentacion Ban Was ‘Rolled Out Wrong’
Following considerable backlash, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has admitted the company fumbled the deployment of its new hateful content policy, which included banning controversial artists R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from its playlists.
“We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job,” Ek said at a conference on Wednesday night (May 30). "The whole goal with this was to make sure that we didn’t have hate speech. It was never about punishing one individual artist or even naming one individual artist.”
Earlier this month, the streaming service announced it would stop promoting the music of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion — both of whom have been accused of varying degrees of assault against women — in any official capacity, though their discographies would remain available for listening. The decision, sparked in part by the #MuteRKelly campaign and praised by many within the music community, was apparently not well received by industry insiders, and some artists allegedly threatened to remove their music from Spotify in protest.
According to Variety, this reportedly prompted the company to rethink the decision and move to reinstate XXXTentacion, but not R. Kelly. Ek didn't address these claims directly, instead saying the policy was merely too ambiguous and open to interpretation.
When asked by Variety if the policy was still in effect, Ek said that it is still on Spotify’s website and will be “subject to future iterations,” noting that there have been ongoing internal debates on how to improve it.