News June 1, 2018

Spotify’s CEO on pulling acts due to hate speech policy: “We rolled this out wrong”

Staff Writer
Spotify’s CEO on pulling acts due to hate speech policy: “We rolled this out wrong”

Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has conceded to music industry accusations regarding its hate speech policy.

“I think we rolled this out wrong and could have done a better job communicating it,” he said.

“We screwed up. We’re now taking feedback, taking comments from a lot of groups.”

The groups are said to include civil rights activists and music executives concerned about censorship.

Ek was speaking on stage at the Recode’s Code conference in California.

He emphasised that the whole exercise on May 10 was to ensure that no hate speech could be found on the service.

Instead, it was seen as an attack primarily on R. Kelly who has been widely accused for decades of sexual misconduct, including grooming and sexually abusing underage girls. 

“It was never about punishing one individual; what we wanted to be was just transparent.

“It wasn’t trying to be a moral police, like who did right and who did wrong. We don’t want to be the judge and the moral police.

“If you are talking about being KKK and doing that kind of stuff, I think it’s pretty obvious that we don’t want you on the service.”

Spotify had also pulled music by 20-year-old Florida rapper XXXTentacion, who faced 2016 charges including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman.

Since then, the woman has withdrawn her accusations saying “he was just fooling around” and he in turn dropped a lawsuit of defamation against her.

Spotify would have known it took the wrong path when Kendrick Lamar threatened to pull his music off the streaming service because it seemed the policy was homing in on black R&B and rap acts.

Among its own ranks, executive Troy Carter was said to be quitting.

The policy is still on the Spotify website but “evolving” based on the comments he receives from different groups.

Hilary Rosen, the former head of the Recording Industry Association of America and now a political consultant and pundit, and long time LGBTIQ+ rights advocate, pulled him up on Spotify’s shift on stance at a time when executives are finally starting to feel the heat of the justice system for their alleged sexual misconduct.

Asking from the audience, she referred to the hate policy, “When you did that you continued Spotify being a little ahead of the industry.

“I wonder if, now that you’ve backtracked on that, whether you’ve lost that moral authority?”

Ek replied: “That’s obviously for other people to judge at the end of the day. “

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