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Spotify reverses artist conduct policy weeks after removing R. Kelly and other artists from playlists

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Singer R. Kelly's music was at the center of the Spotify policy.

Spotify reversed its hate content and conduct policy, three weeks after the streaming company announced it was removing R. Kelly and other artists from all its playlists and algorithmic recommendations.

The policy, specifically the one addressing artist conduct, raised concern among musicians because they worried an allegation would hurt their chances at landing on a Spotify playlist and ultimately have a negative impact on their careers.

“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,” Spotify said in a Friday statement.

The policy had two parts, the company said. One part addressed promoting artists “in the rare cases of the most extreme artist controversies” and the other addressed hate content. The policy was implemented May 10. While the music of removed artists, like R. Kelly, would remain on Spotify, the service wouldn’t promote that music to its 70 million subscribers.

R. Kelly has faced persistent allegations of sexual misconduct dating back more than a decade. Most recently, Kelly has been embroiled in controversy since a Buzzfeed article last summer claimed the singer is holding a group of adult women against their will as part of what some of their parents say is a cult.

Kelly has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Because of the May 10 policy, Spotify said other artists worried mistakes made in their youth would be used against them.

“That’s not what Spotify is about. We don’t aim to play judge and jury. We aim to connect artists and fans,” the company said.

The company said it would continue to seek ways “to impact the greater good and further the industry.”

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