Spotify's recent decision to update their policy against "hateful" content by removing artists from being promoted on their curated and algorithmic playlists has caused quite a backlash, as some fans are outraged over what they perceive to be an issue of censorship.
So far, R. Kelly, XXXTentacion, and Tay-K have all been affected by the new changes, though they likely won't be the last. According to a group of experts contacted by Variety, the three of them could be the start of a potentially dangerous road for the streaming platform.
These artists aren't being censored, exactly, as their music still appears on the platform to stream at any time, and Spotify has the rights to promote artists any way they see fit. The issue, therefore, lies in the arbitrary method Spotify uses to determine which artists will get the ban. As it stands now, there doesn't really seem to be one.
"It is unfortunate that that the announcement speaks to hate, when there are many other concerns to be raised," says Lecia Brooks, outreach director of Southern Poverty Law, a group helping Spotify define hateful content. "They’re trying to hold artists accountable, but who would ascertain what constitutes a credible accusation? It’s dangerous and it has real implications."
Unless Spotify decides to create specific boundaries in which an artists can't cross, it's likely we'll be having this debate every time an artist breaks the rules. Of course, that works to Spotify's advantage, giving them leeway to pick artists with impunity.