Late last week, with his long history of sexual assault allegation finally being treated in a more serious light, Spotify removed all instances of recording R. Kelly from their promotional playlists; this treatment is also being extended to alleged abuser XXXtentacion. Although this is a step in the right direction for the streaming giant, women’s advocacy group UltraViolet believes it is not a step far enough.
In an open letter, UltraViolet executive director Shauna Thomas states to Spotify that “as you know, these two men are not the only known abusers on your platform. We implore you to take a deeper look at the artists you promote.”
Thomas outlines a number of other musical artists considered to be “abusers who continue to profit from [Spotify’s] promotion”, including Chris Brown, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley, Steven Tyler, 6ix9ine, and Ted Nugent.
Although these artists are “nowhere near a comprehensive list,” the impetus behind further extending the policy of not promoting abusive individuals through streaming platforms is still an important one, specifically for a platform as widely-used and influential as Spotify. Thomas rightly points out “every time a famous individual comes to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse,” and hopes that through Spotify treating these abusers for what they are, “other platforms like iTunes, Google Play Music, and Pandora will continue to follow [their] lead.”
Spotify has yet to comply with Thomas’ request for them to extend their demotion of R. Kelly and XXXtentacion to her other outlined musicians, however their initial handling of these matters, along with Thomas’ further demands, will hopefully set a precedent that will positively influence how the cultural output of abusive artists is handled and distributed.