As part of Spotify's new hate content and hateful conduct policy, which officially went into effect today (May 10), the company announced that they would no longer be promoting R. Kelly's songs on its editorial or algorithmic playlists on its service, though his music will still be available to stream on the platform. But he's not the only one who will be affected by the new policy.
As of yesterday (May 9), XXXTentacion's "SAD!" held a prime spot on Spotify's flagship RapCaviar playlist -- which has 9.5 million followers -- at No. 8. Today, "SAD!" is no longer on RapCaviar, Billboard found. A source close to Spotify confirmed that the song had been removed under the new guidelines.
In a statement earlier today announcing the new policy and addressing the decision to remove R. Kelly's music from the service's playlists, Spotify stressed that his music will remain on the platform, but that it will no longer 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 company said. "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."
Spotify Removes R. Kelly Music From Its Playlists As Part of New Hate Content & Hateful Conduct Policy: Exclusive
The new policy outlines two categories the service is focusing on -- hate content and hateful conduct -- in addressing the issue. In Kelly's case, the service decided it would not promote his music as part of its marketing or playlisting initiatives, but would continue to host his music as it does not violate its hate content provision, which would generally lead to the service taking down an artist or creator's catalog if it met the company's criteria. As XXXTentacion's music still remains on Spotify, it would appear that his situation falls under the same provision.
XXXTentacion, the 20-year-old MC from Florida who burst onto the music scene in the past year with singles like "Look At Me!" and albums 17 and ? -- which debuted at Nos. 2 and 1 on the Billboard 200, respectively, upon release -- has been embroiled in a series of controversies stemming from allegations of battery, false imprisonment and witness tampering. He has repeatedly denied the allegations, and is currently awaiting trial on the charges.
Spotify confirmed to Billboard that it had removed Kelly's music from its playlists, but declined to elaborate on editorial decisions beyond that; it's unclear at the current time if other artists have been affected. A rep for R. Kelly did not return a request for comment.
Update (1:51 pm): Following the publication of this article, a rep for XXXTentacion reached out to Billboard, saying, "I don’t have a comment, just a question. Will Spotify remove all [these] artists from playlists?" The list provided included the likes of Gene Simmons from KISS, David Bowie, James Brown, Seal, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys, Real Estate, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, 6ix9ine, Nelly, Miguel, Fabolous and Dr. Dre, among others, with various allegations of sexual or domestic assault attached to each name.