Rap mogul Steve Stoute has a few thoughts on the publicized censorship of prominent African American musicians on a few streaming giants’ playlists.
The hip-hop executive suggested banning specific artists should extend deeper than just musicians currently making negative or controversial headlines.
“When I seen XXXTentacion and R. Kelly get pulled off of playlists on Spotify, I thought, at that moment in time, ‘Where does this go?’ Are you doing this because, are they convenient or is this policy? That’s the problem. Don’t do anything. Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? … It’s actually unfortunate that Spotify is now the guy standing in front of all this, when other streaming services have followed suit. Don’t we always separate the art from the artist? Haven’t we always done that? So, if you’re going to make it a policy, then I have to start going through the list and now it’s not convenient, because now we gotta be like, ‘How about this, we’re f*cking not playing Michael Jackson.’ I mean, we’re just not.” (Hot 97)
Recently, Top Dawg Entertainment’s Punch weighed-in on streaming services censoring musicians.
As for the new policy itself, Top Dawg Entertainment President Punch responded, “Whoa. Are they censoring the music? That’s dangerous. It’s a super-sensitive topic; a conversation needs to be had. There are way too many variables.” This was underscored by multiple reports of demands from activists to remove other artists from playlists; the organization Ultraviolet, for example, called for both Chris Brown and Eminem to be similarly moved off Spotify’s main real estate. (HITS Daily Double)
A few days ago, buzz developed about Apple Music and Pandora low-key censoring musicians.
Now, a source close to the matter tells Pitchfork that Apple Music also begun to stop promoting R. Kelly in featured playlists over the past several weeks. The decision was made quietly, and it pre-dates Spotify’s announcement. Kelly’s music has been pulled from Apple Music-curated playlists such as “Best Slow Jams of the 90s, Vol. 1” and Vol. 2. (Kelly is prominently featured in the artwork for the playlists, but his music is no longer in them.) Seven R. Kelly-centric playlists (including “R. Kelly Essentials,” “R. Kelly: Influences,” and “Inspired by R. Kelly”) are still on the streaming service. (Pitchfork)
Pandora recently issued a statement confirming R. Kelly fell under the category of possibly blacklisted musicians.
In a statement to The Blast, a rep for the company says, “Pandora’s policy is to not actively promote artists with certain demonstrable behavioral, ethical or criminal issues. We approach each of these scenarios on a case–by–case basis to ensure we address components true to Pandora’s principles while not overreaching and avoiding censorship.” (The Blast)