Starting Thursday, May 10, Spotify users will be unable to find music from the Pied Piper on any of the service’s editorial or algorithmic playlists as part of a new policy pushing back against hate content. This means his music will not appear on flagship playlists like RapCaviar, Discover Weekly or New Music Friday.
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify told Billboard in a statement.
“His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. 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,” the music streaming company said in a statement obtained by Billboard. “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.”
Years of sexual misconduct allegations have come to haunt the “Trapped in the Closet” singer.
A scathing Buzzfeed report from 2017 claims that Kelly has run a sex cult in an Atlanta suburb for many years. Women who were intimate with him have come out stating the singer was controlling, abusive and dehumanized them on several occasions.
On May 4 Omisade Burney-Scott, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy with SisterSong, a Southern-based, national membership organization with a mission to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color, announced they are working with local organizers in North Carolina to push for the cancellation of his May 11th concert in Greensboro, NC. Since the hashtag #MuteRKelly and national movement were launched last summer, 10 of the musician’s concerts have been canceled.
One of Kelly’s ex-girlfriends, Kitti Jones, said in the BBC documentary R Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes that women were trained to be “sex pets” for his entertainment.
The latest allegations have shaken up the Kelly camp. The BBC reported that Linda Mensch, R. Kelly’s entertainment attorney of four years, has jumped ship as more allegations surface. As of April 16, his former spokesperson Trevian Kutti confirmed to Pitchfork she no longer works with Kelly.
In the past few months, #MeToo creator Tarana Burke has helped to spearhead the #MuteRKelly movement to hold the singer accountable for his alleged treatment of women and get radio stations and streaming services to stop playing the singer’s music.
“When we look at promotion, we look at issues around hateful conduct, where you have an artist or another creator who has done something off-platform that is so particularly out of line with our values, egregious, in a way that it becomes something that we don’t want to associate ourselves with,” Jonathan Prince, Spotify VP and head of content and marketplace policy, told Billboard. “So we’ve decided that in some circumstances, we may choose to not work with that artist or their content in the same way — to not program it, to not playlist it, to not do artist marketing campaigns with that artist.”