Spotify Backtracks on Controversial 'Hateful Conduct' Policy

Illustration for article titled Spotify Backtracks on Controversial Hateful Conduct Policy
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Spotify doesn’t want to police the content on its platform and the company finally admitted as much in a press release on Friday. The Swedish music service has updated its ‘Hateful Conduct’ rules by effectively walking the entire idea back.


The policy that was announced in May resulted in the removal of the artists R. Kelly, Tay-K, and XXXTentacion from the company’s playlists, immediately sparking intense pushback from the music industry. Spotify acknowledged that it didn’t do its due diligence when enacting the policy, saying:

[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.


This statement itself is a little confusing. Within the company, Billboard reported that some executives had already questioned the decision explicitly because of the kind of backlash that could arise. So, Spotify may well have known this policy could’ve backfired the way it did. Troy Carter, Spotify’s global head of creative services, was rumored to be heading out of the door because of this choice, but last we heard he currently remains at the company.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek even admitted the policy was “rolled out wrong” earlier this week. Perhaps next time Spotify, a company valued at over $25 billion, will listen a bit more closely to those internal and external voices when making such industry-shaking decisions.


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I get where the impetus for this came from, but really, this would have been impossible to enforce.

Are they going to go back through history and find artists who harbored racist views? Because you’d be getting rid of like, 90% of the country music recorded in the 20th century.

Or is it the lyrics that matter? So a lot of metal (and a lot of rap) goes out the window, even if the lyrics are intentionally exaggerated and a kind of quasi-parody?

Or what about songs where it really looks like the artists are responding to (or trying to process) a tragedy? Does “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam make the cut? What about “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2?

It’d be impossible to get this right, weighing between song content, artist behavior, and adjusting for history.