On May 10, Spotify announced the implementation of the "Public Hate Content and Hateful Conduct" policy. The company confirmed that the new rules meant that music by R. Kelly, the singer accused of numerous sex crimes, would be removed from certain playlists on the platform. Other companies like Apple Music and Pandora soon followed suit and took R. Kelly's music down from certain curated areas.
However, the new rules have not led to a decrease in streams of Kelly's music, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Prior to Spotify's announcement, Kelly's music was streamed across music platforms an average of 6,584,000 times every week, according to numbers from Nielsen Music. After the new policies were implemented, streams of Kelly's music actually increased slightly – 6,676,000 for the week of May 10-16.
Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, told The Reporter that Spotify was still sending a good message, regardless of the stream count. “Frankly it’s not important in this context whether people are listening to his music or not, what’s important is that Spotify is holding itself to the standard that they themselves established and they live up to it,” she said.
Removal from playlists has affected other artists. XXXTentacion's hit song "SAD!" experienced a 17% drop in streams every day following the ban, streams of R. Kelly's music have not been affected. Tay-K, the imprisoned rapper behind "The Race," issued a statement when his music was removed from Spotify: "I don’t make hate music I rap about what goes on in every hood in America," he wrote. "I will never let a situation hold me back from what I believe in."
R. Kelly was sued on Monday for false imprisonment and sexual battery, according to TMZ.