May 10, 2018 / 3:56 PM / 6 months ago

Spotify removes R. Kelly's music from playlists after boycott campaign

(Reuters) - American R&B singer R. Kelly's music was removed from playlists and recommendations on Spotify, the streaming service said on Thursday, after a campaign to boycott the singer who has been accused of sexual misconduct.

Kelly, 51, one of the most successful R&B singers of the past 20 years, has been the object of an online #MuteRKelly boycott campaign that gained momentum last week when it was adopted by the Time's Up movement against sexual harassment.

The action will affect Spotify-owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations, the company said. Kelly's music will still be available on the service but the decision to remove it from playlists means it will no longer be promoted.

Kelly's manager John Holder did not reply to Reuters requests for comment.

Spotify Technologies SA (SPOT.N) said in a statement, "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."

Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

"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," it said.

Spotify is the world's largest music streaming service, with 75 million paid subscribers.

Last July Kelly, whose given name is Robert, denied accusations in an article by U.S. media outlet BuzzFeed News that he was keeping a household of young women in a "cult" atmosphere.

His attorney, Linda Mensch, said at the time, "Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name." Kelly has not been charged with any crime.

In May, the Washington Post reported that six women once connected with Kelly said they were in abusive relationships with him. Kelly has denied the accusations.

A jury acquitted Kelly in 2008 of child pornography charges, finding he did not make an explicit videotape showing him having sex with an underage girl.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that his management said in a statement, “Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff."

The Time's Up campaign last week issued a statement calling on companies associated with his music business to cut ties with the singer.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio

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