Spotify’s move to ban R. Kelly from their curated playlists may have missed the mark — but that only depends on what the initial objective really was.
The world’s largest music subscription streaming service took a stand against R. Kelly earlier this month. In light of the 51-year-old’s multiple sexual assault lawsuits — the most recent was filed a few hours ago by one Faith Rodgers — the streaming giant decided that Kelly doesn’t represent the values it stands for.
The R&B crooner’s punishment was omission from the company’s curated playlists. And while some might not consider this to be a harsh enough penalty for his “crimes,” those playlists represent some serious listener real estate in as far as streaming is concerned.
Not being featured on multiple, high-ranked playlists will substantially impact a modern artist’s streaming revenue, if not their general music revenue.
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify-owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” reads Spotify’s statement. “His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not 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. 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.”
Nonetheless, and in a quite surprising turn of events, R. Kelly’s streaming numbers have actually increased.
The day following the startling, May 10th announcement showed a spike – defiantly – of 117,000 additional streams. In the seven days including and after May 10, R. Kelly garnered 6,676,000 streams, a ~100,000 increase over his usual average of 6,584,000 per week.
In short, more and more people have taken an interest in his works. They can’t find the tracks on the auto playlists, so they’re actively searching them. And Kelly, whose last solo album was a holiday collection titled 12 Nights of Christmas towards end of 2016, is gleefully reaping the rewards of his negative attention.
Never one to shy away from hurling back, the singer was rebellious as he discussed the Spotify and #MuteRKelly situations in a video originally leaked on Facebook on Thursday.
“I’m handcuffed by my destiny,” he said, a cigar disdainfully dangling from his hand. “They should’ve did this shit 30 years ago.”
So, remember that I told you about that random Antoine Walker FB Live video with R. Kelly last night? Well, here is partially slurring Kels proposing a toast declaring “it’s too late” to #MuteRKelly pic.twitter.com/a45z7EDis2
— Exavier Pope (@exavierpope) May 18, 2018
“It’s too late. The music has been injected into the world.”
Spotify must’ve known that. As with most bad things nowadays, their censorship attempt was only going to grant R. Kelly more publicity.
Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to hear what a twisted musician suspected of “brainwashing” young women and “holding them against their will in a sex cult” sounds like?
Depending on what the original mission was, the end result has either been a big success or a spectacular failure. If the idea was to toss Kelly into some sort of obscurity, it’s back to the drawing board. That would probably only have been served by tossing his music off the database.
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But if Spotify’s idea was simply to tell the world that they’re alive to R. Kelly’s misdeeds and they don’t condone them, then the message has been delivered. The ensuing furore alone has assured that.