Spotify criticizes Kanye's comments, keeps his music

The streaming giant said that none of Kanye's music violates their anti-hate policies, despite his recent string of antisemitic comments.

Rapper Kanye West smiles during a meeting with then-US President Donald Trump to discuss criminal justice reform at the White House in Washington, US, October 11, 2018.  (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE/FILE PHOTO)
Rapper Kanye West smiles during a meeting with then-US President Donald Trump to discuss criminal justice reform at the White House in Washington, US, October 11, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE/FILE PHOTO)

As corporations around the world including Adidas AG ADSGn.DE cut ties with Kanye West, music streaming service Spotify Technology SASPOT.N said it would not remove the rapper's music unless his label requested it.

Music from the artist now known as Ye did not violate anti-hate policies, Spotify chief Daniel Ek told Reuters.

Recent antisemitic remarks made by the rapper are "just awful comments," and would have warranted removal from Spotify for violating its policies, which prohibit hate speech, if they had been on a podcast or recording, Ek said.

But none of that content can be found on Spotify.

"It's really just his music, and his music doesn't violate our policy," said Ek, adding, "It's up to his label, if they want to take action or not."

 Broken Ethernet cable is seen in front of Spotify logo in this illustration taken March 11, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION) Broken Ethernet cable is seen in front of Spotify logo in this illustration taken March 11, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

That has not happened.

Universal Music's Def Jam label, which owns the copyright to West's recordings from 2002 through 2016, and continued distributing his releases until last year, issued a statement condemning Ye's remarks, saying "There is no place for antisemitism in our society."

It did not ask for the removal of Ye's recordings, many of which are critically acclaimed works. The music also can be found on Apple Music and YouTube Music.

Kanye faces the consequences

Hollywood power broker Ari Emanuel called for the major streaming services to end their business relationships with Ye after the rapper promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories in interviews and on social media, where he Tweeted that he would go "death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE."

Since the remarks, Ye has lost high-profile and lucrative partnerships. Creative Artists Agency, one of the world's largest talent agencies, no longer represents him, film and television studio MRC Entertainment has dropped a documentary and sneaker-maker Adidas on Tuesday ended a partnership estimated to be worth more than $500 million in royalty payments and other fees.

Spotify, however, has faced backlash when it punished musicians for their personal misconduct.

The streaming service removed R Kelly's music from its playlists and recommendations in 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct. It walked back the policy after other artists threatened boycotts, giving users a mute button to block particular artists, instead.

If Ye's label asks for the rapper's catalog to be removed, Ek said, "Obviously we'll respect their wishes."