Spotify had just placed tracks by Chris Brown to several of their playlists around the same time they removed controversial artists like R. Kelly and XXXTentacion. On May 10th, the company had added Brown to multiple highly-rated playlists on the same day as the announcement of their new “Hateful Conduct Policy”. Brown has been convicted of a number of violent crimes, including the infamous moment with pop singer Rihanna back in 2015. To many, this seems to bring into question the new policy.
When discussing hateful conduct committed by the artist themselves, Spotify commented:
“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 (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
Essentially, anything an artist does in the real world has the potential to be overlooked. This could be done for multiple reasons, the most obvious being money. To some, it could seem that Spotify would care more about the content and its sales than the individuals creating said content.
To many, music streaming platforms like Spotify serve as a platform for artists to express themselves. Giving an algorithm and the ones coding it the ability to set a moral standard of content may not sit well with some artists. Some could see it as a means to silence certain points of views and perspectives.
Policies like this have been used by several companies, including Twitter and Google. Now, Spotify is a company, and those running it can surely do as they please. Implementing this policy, however, may have been a risky move given the consumers reaction.
It’s difficult to tell where this will leave Spotify in the long run. The artists are the primary reason the company has reached such success – after all, Spotify exists to stream artist content – so it’s imperative that the platform tread lightly. In the end, only time will tell how this policy will impact the consumers. We can only hope that it will be a positive one.