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That didn’t take long. After Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said it was working with civil rights groups and folks within the music industry to retool its “bad behavior” framework this week, the streaming service has scrapped it wholesale. “While we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines,” a statement from the company reads.
In so many words, the statement continues that the company never intended to become the morality police. “Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists,” it says. “Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.” Spotify says that some artists were worried that mistakes they made in their youth could come back to haunt them, and that allegations could affect an act’s chance of being included in a playlist, regardless of genre. “That’s not what Spotify is about,” it says.
Spotify first came under fire for this after pulling music from R. Kelly from its playlists, following years of allegations that the singer was guilty of sexual assault, statutory rape and other crimes. Previously, it’d worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League to develop the rules.
This doesn’t mean that the streaming service will drop its policy regarding hate speech, though. It noted that it will continue to not permit music, podcasts or videos that aim to incite “hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation” on the service.
“We’re not talking about offensive, explicit or vulgar content — we’re talking about hate speech,” the blog post concludes.
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted the service handled its policy to limit promotion for artists based on their conduct poorly. “We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job,” Ek said at the Code Conference, according to Deadline. He said that the company never intended to serve as the “morality police” with the policy, and conceded that the framework was too vague at its inception.
Early this month, the streaming service pulled R. Kelly’s music from its playlists following years of allegations that the artist was guilty of sexual assault, statutory rape and other crimes. At the time, Spotify said it worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League to develop the rules. Spotify said it would nix promotion for any artist who does something “especially harmful or hateful,” which includes sexual violence.
Ek said that the streaming service was working with the music industry and additional civil rights groups to adjust the guidelines, and that the policy was changing as a result.