Spotify Removes R. Kelly for ‘Hateful Content,’ But What About All These Other Singers?

Spotify rolled out a new morality clause for its service, which it describes as applying to “hate content and hateful conduct.” Luckily for the streaming service, R. Kelly is the only musician to have ever done anything immoral, because he’s the only one they mentioned by name, though apparently XXXtentacion also had his song “Sad” removed from playlists.

I went on Spotify to see if I could lend them a hand with their new behavior policy. Right off the bat I noticed they have five different versions of the Ted Nugent song “Jailbait,” about Ted having sex with a 13-year-old girl and then offering to let a police officer rape her when he gets arrested. So we’re off to a strong start here.

I noticed there’s still a bunch of official Michael Jackson playlists, that’s probably a problem if we’re worried about promoting people who have engaged in “hateful conduct.” You’re also still promoting David Bowie, who engaged in some “hateful conduct” with Lori Mattix when she was 15. Ditto Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

Now, I don’t know how far your new code of conduct goes, but I should mention Eric Clapton’s classic “Layla” is about being in love with George Harrison’s wife. I know that’s probably not “hateful,” per se, but since you’re the morality police now, do you really want people to think that you’re promoting adultery?

You’ve got The Beatles on Spotify, and I imagine that was a major coup for you, seeing as how they’re still the most popular rock band of all time. The only problem is you can’t promote that you have The Beatles catalog anymore, because John Lennon was an abusive husband and father in his first marriage, by his own admission. Your policy says “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator,” and that’s exactly what John Lennon did. Oh, and those early Rolling Stones albums, the ones with most of their hits like Beggar’s Banquet and Their Satanic Majesty’s Request? Well, Brian Jones was also an abusive partner, he once hit his girlfriend so hard he broke his hand on her face, so they’re going to have to go to. Oh, and you’ve still got some Ike Turner, you guys are really behind the curve on this, you know.

Of course, there’s no “mute Ike Turner” hashtag, and Bowie’s liaisons with teen groupies didn’t really cause any public outcry. I could probably list examples of things musicians did that violate your policies all day, until you the only things you could feasibly promote are Kenny G and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Except the LDS church didn’t allow black people to join until 1978, and that sounds pretty hateful, so I hope you like Kenny G.

At the end of the day, Spotify is a private company and is free to do or not do whatever they want. I’m just offended they’re acting like we’re stupid. Pulling R. Kelly’s music from playlists has nothing to do with his behavior, which is, admittedly, pretty egregious. It’s about the reaction to R. Kelly’s behavior. You’re not taking a stand against bad behavior by artists, you’re crafting a policy that lets you step away from artists who attract negative publicity. And that’s fine, it’s your choice. But don’t act like it’s some brave moral stance or some actual policy you have any plans to consistently apply.

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