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Popular music-streaming service Spotify backpedals on controversial artist conduct policy

Spotify, the popular music-streaming service, has revised a recent policy after a backlash from artists and critics who called it unfair. (Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images)

Spotify will abandon a new policy to bar artists for "questionable" conduct, the company announced Friday.

What's the story?

The company faced a backlash after the policy was rolled out in May. Critics said false accusations and other factors could unfairly limit an artist's ability to utilize the popular music-streaming service.

"We don't aim to play judge and jury," the company said in a blog post. "We aim to connect artists and fans – and Spotify playlists are a big part of how we do that."

Spotify also admitted that what is considered acceptable can vary.

"Our playlist editors are deeply rooted in their respective cultures, and their decisions focus on what music will positively resonate with their listeners," the company said. "That can vary greatly from culture to culture, and playlist to playlist. Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists."

In its announcement, the company said its policy was well-intended but rolled out too quickly.

"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," the company said.

On May 10, R&B singer R. Kelly was removed from Spotify playlists in response to accusations of sexual assault.

What about 'hate speech?'

Spotify decided to keep its new hate content policy, however. That policy covers music and podcasts.

“The second part of our policy addressed hate content,” the company said. “Spotify does not permit content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As we’ve done before, we will remove content that violates that standard. We’re not talking about offensive, explicit, or vulgar content – we’re talking about hate speech.”

Moving forward, the company plans to work to “impact the greater good and further the industry we all care so much about.”

Spotify now has the chance to continue conversations and work “across artist and advocacy communities,” the company's blog post said.

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