Less than two weeks after announcing a hate content and hateful conduct policy, Spotify will reportedly roll back their previously announced plan to remove XXXTentacion from playlists. The company has already informed record label executives, managers, and artists that he will be added back to promotional playlists, Bloomberg reports. XXX, along with R. Kelly, was removed from all promoted playlists as a reaction to abuse allegations. Both deny the charges. There are currently no plans to promote Kelly again.
The move drew pushback from representatives for both artists, with the music industry following suit. Multiple artists reportedly called Spotify to complain, including Kendrick Lamar and his representatives. Rumours quickly circulated that Troy Carter, the company's global head of creative services and former manager to Lady Gaga, was planning to leave over the policy, because he was reportedly not told about it in advance. He denied it to the L.A. Times, saying, "I don't think it's a secret that everybody didn't agree." Carter also called the policy a "work in progress." Bloomberg's report agrees, with sources saying the policy is still being hammered out and the company continues to work with members of the music industry and civil rights activists about how to roll out and adjust their rules.
A lot of the furor over the hateful conduct policy came because the two artists removed from promotion on the site are not convicted on any charges as of yet. Kelly has been exonerated on charges in the past, and XXX's case is still pending trial. XXX's publicist asked if Spotify planned to also withdraw their promotion from several other artists, some convicted by courts of crimes and some not. Additionally, no consideration seemed to be given to below the line production on tracks. What will Spotify do with major hits by Beyoncé that were produced by Detail, who is accused by two women of rape and another of sexual assault? Should Kesha's songs produced by Dr. Luke all be removed from promotion by the service, leaving her to be punished for his actions? (Dr. Luke denies all charges against him by Kesha.) Should all of the artists who owe their success to music executives like Charlie Walk and L.A. Reid, both accused of sexual misconduct, be removed from promotion?
Of course, it is, and always has been, at Spotify's discretion to promote or not promote any artist for any reason. And yes, it is problematic to announce that they will not promote artists whose actions are against their core values as a company that is not enforced against all artists, or without a full explanation of what their core values are.
It is very much appreciated that Spotify stepped in to draw a line against abuses in the music industry — an industry that has all but gone untouched by the #MeToo movement. Hopefully they will continue to work on how to enact this policy and come up with more transparent terms. Once they do, the next big hurdle will be enforcing them despite pushback from an industry that continues to monetise abusers.