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Earlier this month, Spotify unveiled a controversial new hate content and hateful conduct policy that included removing music from the platform’s curated playlists by artists who didn’t reflect “[Spotify’s] values” like R. Kelly, XXXTentacion and Tay-K. The move had immediate negative monetary implications for the artists involved. Today, the platform announced it will roll back part of the new policy, citing how vague and difficult to implement the policy would be.
Of course, at least part of the reason for today’s announcement has to be chalked up to mounting pressure from the music industry to drop the policy. 50 Cent was an early critic, but soon reports stated that other artists, including Kendrick Lamar, were ready to pull their music from the platform if Spotify didn’t do something to change their policy. It turns out Lamar himself may not have pulled the strings, though Top Dawg Entertainment boss Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith certianly did.
Top Dawg spoke to Billboard about his reaction to the policy—in particular how he felt it was unfairly targeting hip-hop culture. He also spoke with Troy Carter, Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services and Daniel Ek, Spotify Founder and CEO.
"I don't think it's right for artists to be censored, especially in our culture,” Top Dawg said. “How did they just pick those [artists] out? How come they didn't pick out any others from any other genres or any other different cultures? There [are] so many other artists that have different things going on, and they could've picked anybody. But it seems to me that they're constantly picking on hip-hop culture."
“[Ek’s] intentions were good in terms of what they were trying to do, but it just came across wrong," Top Dawg added, echoing Ek’s words from earlier this week. "He understood where I was coming from and he wanted to help change or reverse that decision. So it's not no bad blood, it shouldn't affect anything going forward.”
Part of Top Dawg’s strategy involved knowing that as the head of the label that represents some of the biggest names in music right now, including Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, SZA, he had a voice in this conversation. According to him, he wasn’t the only one ready to take action if Spotify didn’t change its new policy.
"My whole thing with them was, we gotta fix this situation, and if it can't be fixed, then there's gonna be a real problem, we're gonna have to start pulling our music from the site,” he told Billboard. "I was willing to get the whole culture to back out. There were other people in the business, other powerful artists that were willing to back what I was saying, because nobody agrees with censorship like that."
"People come to streaming sites for the music not the technology," Top Dawg added. "The music is more important than anything else. That makes us the stock."
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