Spotify has scrapped a hateful conduct policy it introduced just last month after facing a fierce backlash from musicians and record labels who threatened to pull their music from the platform.
Speaking at Vox Media's Code Conference this week in his first interview since taking the company public and becoming a billionaire (on paper, at least), Spotify's co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek pointed to a cultural disconnect between his home country of Sweden, where his company is based, and the US, as well as the company's initial failure to adequately explain the new policy.
It's easy to imagine the rollout of Spotify's "hateful conduct" policy being studied by future students of business as an example of what not to do. They noted in a press release that, "while we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn't spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines".
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At the time, the company removed music from artists like R. Kelly, XXXTentacion and Tay-K from playlists that it maintains in its app. A spokesperson declined to comment on individual artists. Spotify also said some artists "even anxious that mistakes made in their youth would be used against them". That led some artists to question whether "mistakes in their youth would be used against them", it read. "That's not what Spotify is about".
It said these decisions had been taken "in the rare cases of the most extreme artist controversies". There were also allegations of racial bias in the policy, given that so numerous artists on the list (which Spotify said would grow) were hip-hop and R&B artists of color. We don't aim to play judge and jury. "Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists", it says. "We're committed to working across the artist and advocacy communities to help achieve that".