Spotify’s newly announced policy against hate content and hateful conduct went wrong in multiple ways after it was first announced on May 10 — and on top of all that, the overall streaming numbers of R. Kelly, the first artist targeted by the new policy, actually went up in the days after the announcement, according to data provided by Nielsen Music. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.
Looking at Kelly’s rounded daily numbers for the seven days including and following the May 10 announcement, he totaled 6,676,000 streams, nearly 100,000 more than his weekly average of 6,584,000. Much of that increase can actually be attributed to a seemingly defiant spike on the day after the announcement, which saw a bump of around 117,000 on the first day before settling into approximately average streaming numbers for the year to date. On-demand video numbers followed a similar pattern.
While a rep for Nielsen declined to say exactly which streaming services it tracks, it is known to follow Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and others.
While Kelly’s average weekly numbers have seen healthy growth since 2016 — rising from 4.7 million to 5.7 million to 6.7 million — that can largely be attributed to the exponential growth in streaming services over the past years.
Kelly has had multiple accusations of sexually abusive and inappropriate behavior leveled against him over the past two decades, including marrying his 15-year-old protege Aaliyah Houghton, child pornography and other charges, including allegations from five separate women in this month alone. Yet he has not been convicted of any related crime.
Other services have confirmed that they have removed Kelly’s music from their playlists and other promotional vehicles, but they have shied away from the kind of sweeping, vague statement of intent that Spotify made. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator,” Spotify’s announcement reads in part.
In a separate statement, it continued, “We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly. His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions – what we choose to program – to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
Be that as it may, Kelly’s numbers on Spotify are formidable. The plays on his top 10 tracks, as of May 22, follow:
- Ignition – Remix 322,861,478
- Bump n’ Grind 69,779,646
- I Believe I Can Fly 44,676,308
- Cookie 31,088,263
- I’m a Flirt Remix 29,005,131
- Same Girl 28,824,173
- Bump & Grind 2014 26,838,627
- Burn It Up 12,253,601
- Fiesta – Remix 10,705,103
- She’s Got That Vibe 8,853,331