These past few years have shown that virtue signaling is very rarely good business, especially when the policy is purposefully vague and leads to selective enforcement. That is a lesson that Spotify learned this week after announcing its
stunning and brave new policy against “hateful content”. The company policy was purposefully vague, allowing it carte blanche to decide what was or wasn’t hateful. This could include the songs themselves or even the private conduct of the artists performing the songs. The biggest victims of this were R. Kelly and XXXTentacion, who were removed from all promoted playlists.
Almost immediately the public backlash was apparent, because their policy couldn’t possibly be enforced uniformly or entire swathes of music would have to be wiped. Others pointed out that many white artists with abusive histories were left untouched by the policy while two hip-hop artists were punished. Even XXXTencion pointed out the hypocrisy in which other artists were left untouched by the policy. Sure people like R Kelly and XXXTencion are bad, but this policy was not workable in any meaningful way because it turned Spotify into the morality police instead of a music streaming site.
Now Spotify is coming to its senses, revising the policy, and restoring XXXTentacion to playlists. We have no idea what changes will be made to the policy itself, but the policy is re-worked now. We think it will probably just disappear quietly and hope you forget all about it. R Kelly will continue to remain un-promoted, however. With Spotify only recently going public, it can’t afford to tank its stock price and piss off its artists and listeners this early.