R. Kelly’s is now getting pulled from curated playlists on Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. But don’t call it censorship…
R. Kelly has been accused — though never convicted — of a raft of horrifying abuses. The accusations include sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, and harassment, with complaints coming from numerous women. Last year, a disturbing BuzzFeed report accused R. Kelly of holding women in a multi-state sex cult. Just last week, another exposé revealed more details of that cult, as well as additional allegations from two women.
Various organizations and streaming platforms are taking these accusations seriously. Just last week, Spotify announced that it would stop promoting R. Kelly’s music through its curated playlists. This is part of Spotify’s new hate content policy that also includes ‘bad actors’ like XXXTentacion, Bill Cosby, and Louis C.K., among others.
But calls for an industry-wide boycott of Kelly have continued, and other platforms are responding. According to a Pitchfork report, Apple Music has been pulling R. Kelly’s material from its own featured playlists. This was done quietly and maybe happened before the public announcement from Spotify.
Separately, Blast just reported that Pandora has taken steps to minimize Kelly’s presence on its platform.
A statement from Pandora reads, “Pandora’s policy is to not actively promote artists with certain demonstrable behavioral, ethical or criminal issues. We approach each of these scenarios on a case-by-case basis to ensure we address components true to Pandora’s principles while not overreaching and avoiding censorship.”
Sounds like the statement coming out of Spotify, which insisted this isn’t censorship. That’s because R. Kelly’s music is still available on Spotify — though the platform refuses to promote the artist on its heavily-accessed playlists. The same is true for Apple Music and Pandora, both of whom are merely removing promotion for R. Kelly, not wiping him from their catalog.
But maybe that’s not enough.
The #MuteRKelly campaign has called on the singer’s label, RCA Records, as well as Ticketmaster, to cease their relationships with the singer. Actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell, a member of Time’s Up’s Women of Color (WOC) committee, had this to say:
“We stand linked with our sisters and will no longer tolerate the predatory behavior of R. Kelly to go unchecked. This is a call to action to #MuteRKelly. His music must be turned down and the voices of these brave survivors must be heard.”
The WOC also includes Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay and TV magnate Shonda Rhimes.
But not everyone agrees with the R. Kelly takedown. Defenders include 50 Cent, who blasted Spotify for arbitrarily picking on R. Kelly despite a lack of judicial due process. That echoed the complaints of XXXTentacion, who was also stripped from Spotify’s plum playlists.
In a retort worth observing, XXXTentacion rattled off a list of artists with egregious offenses, none of whom have been removed from the platform.