I agree with you, Spotify
I saw online the other day that Spotify "stopped promoting" R. Kelly and XXXTentacion's music completely on their streaming service, as Spotify will "no longer be promoting artists that they find to be out of line with their values." This outraged a bit of the internet...I think because they didn't understand what it meant.
I would say most people are familiar with R. Kelly, but most aren't with XXXTentacion. I have never heard of XXXTentacion before this controversy. But I think who these people are doesn't necessarily matter in this editorial-style context.
R. Kelly, who for years has faced lawsuits and news reports alleging sexual coercion and abuse of young girls and women, has denied each of the accusations against him. He is not currently facing any criminal charges and was acquitted in 2008 in a child pornography case that took six years to bring to trial. His management team has called the recent Time’s Up campaign an “attempted public lynching of a black man.”
In a statement on Thursday, representatives for R. Kelly denounced what they called an “ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff,” and called Spotify’s decision “unfortunate and shortsighted.”
“Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit,” R. Kelly’s management team said. “It is acting based on false and unproven allegations. It is bowing to social-media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute over matters that have nothing to do with serving customers." (NYTimes)
To my knowledge, people were outraged because they thought Spotify pulled the artists' music catalogs completely. But this isn't the case at all, actually. As of today, both of the artists are still on Spotify if you search for them. I understand Spotify to say that they just are not promoting their music, meaning their songs will not be featured in Spotify curated playlists and on their promotional pages. I am a HUGE music fan and advocate for supporting artists...and I just don't know if it's that big of a deal honestly. To me it's not. To the artists, is another story but I can't speak for them.
Yes, listeners will have to dig a bit deeper to find their specific material, but if they are one of your favorite artists anyway, in theory you would already have them in your own playlist to listen to. I am gonna have to side with Spotify on this one. If they don't want to promote these artists, they don't need to. There are so many options for streaming and if this offends you so much, you can get acquainted with Apple Music or Tidal or whatever else is out there now. I am thankful they didn't completely remove their music from the service. To me that would have been too much (just the concept--I don't care necessarily about either of the two artists here really).
But overall, I don't think Spotify necessarily realized how great of a slippery slope this is. There are so many artists that, under this sort of subjective new mandate, will seemingly fall into the same or similar categories as R. Kelly or XXXTentacion. What about Dr. Dre? 2Pac? What about the tons of white artists who also fall into this category...Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie, and so on? And what does it mean if an artist is deceased--do we just understand that their music isn't being promoted anyway, as it isn't new material, so it doesn't matter anyway?