Spotify announced a new policy about hateful content earlier this month, removing artists like R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from Spotify-curated playlists, but withdrew the policy shortly after it was announced initially. No concrete explanation was given (both backlash from labels and noted XXX fan Kendrick Lamar may have been involved), but Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has now spoken about it publicly at technology site Recode’s 2018 Code Conference.
Ek acknowledged how Spotify has become a “material part of the music industry” and said that “as a platform, one of the key things we believe in is just being transparent,” which is why they announced the policy changes at all. However, he confessed that the way Spotify rolled out their conduct policy (as opposed to the company’s hate speech policy announced at the same time) was “very vague” and outright “wrong.”
When asked by interviewer Peter Kafka whether someone could be “a Nazi or someone that abuses women… or both” and still be on Spotify, Ek answered that the policy was never about “punishing one individual artist or even naming one individual artist as well,” but then said that there was “too much ambiguity” and it was “never the intent” to take artists off the service entirely. Instead, he clarifies the intent was to “go after… hate speech [rather] than being moral police about who did right and who did wrong… we don’t want to be the judge.”
Watch the full interview below.