Spotify CEO Talks Hateful Conduct Policy: "We Rolled This Out Wrong"

After his company removed R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from curated playlists at the start of this month, Daniel Ek admitted to a conference crowd last night that Spotify made some mistakes.

Spotify rolled out its "hateful conduct" policy earlier this month, and it satisfied nobody. The move saw R. Kelly and XXXTentacion removed from the platform's curated playlists, though their music was still made available to stream by choice. Other musicians whose music appeared to cross Spotify's newly drawn line remained. Kendrick Lamar reportedly threatened to pull his music from Spotify, as the policy seemed only to impact black artists; Global Head of Creator Services Troy Carter reportedly threatened to leave his post if the whole thing wasn't scrapped. XXXTentacion returned to curated playlists last week, though Kelly remained absent. Which, more than ever, left everyone thinking, "Hey, Spotify absolutely rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job."


In a keynote Q&A at last night's Code Conference in California, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted that things didn't go exactly to plan. “We rolled this out wrong and could have done a much better job,” he said, according to Variety.

Ek, who reportedly took full responsibility for the policy and its problems, said that he didn't want particular artists to be singled out. “The whole goal with this was to make sure that we didn’t have hate speech,” he said. “It was never about punishing one individual artist or even naming one individual artist.” He added that the policy is still in effect, but that it's "subject to future iterations."

The Variety write-up goes on to mention Spotify's troubled forays into video, and I'm convinced that co-Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wallenstein knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote this paragraph:

As for Spotify’s early struggles with video, he acknowledged, “In video, we went way too fast and way too early.” But he also said that with little regret, citing the company’s habit of charging aggressively into a space and then dialing it back in future iterations.

"Charging aggressively into a space and then dialing it back in future iterations" is just a more professional way of saying, "Let's just do it and be legends, man." And it's a perfectly fine attitude to adopt if you're trying to integrate video into your platform, or investing in cryptocurrency, or ordering dim sum. It is probably not the best way to think when you're dealing with the very difficult relationship between music and morality.

Alex Robert Ross wants dim sum now. Follow him on Twitter.