INTERNATIONAL - Spotify Technology SA, the world’s largest paid music streaming service, erred in implementing a policy that punished some recording artists accused of misconduct and has angered its biggest music-industry partners, said Chief Executive Daniel Ek.
“We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job,” Ek said, speaking Wednesday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Executives across the entertainment industry have been taking swift action to punish performers and peers accused of sexual harassment, assault and other abuses after the fall of movie producer Harvey Weinstein touched off the #MeToo movement. Ek stepped into a cultural minefield by singling out two black artists: R. Kelly, who was taken off Spotify playlists over allegations he committed statutory rape, and XXXTentacion, who was accused of battering a pregnant woman.
While some cheered the policy as consistent with rising awareness of women’s rights, others, including record label executives and hip-hop performers, questioned why Spotify had only punished two prominent black performers.
Ek addressed the backlash to the policy for the first time in a public display of remorse after two weeks of damage control behind the scenes. After representatives for acts including rapper Kendrick Lamar, called Ek to express their frustration, Spotify moved to address the objections.
Some users erroneously believed that the artists’ work had been removed from the platform when it had only been deleted from playlists many users rely on to find music they like, Ek said.
Spotify is planning to adjust the policy and has told partners in the music industry it will restore XXXTentacion’s songs to playlists, people with knowledge of the matter said last week.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ek didn’t specify what changes Spotify will make, but said the policy was intended to target hate speech. No final decision has been made, he said.
“What we were trying to go after was really around hate speech,” Ek said. “It wasn’t trying to be a moral police like who did right and who did wrong. We don’t want to be the judge and the moral police of that.”