Spotify Exec Troy Carter Pushed Back Against New Policy ‘Determining Values’

Avatar
Written by Ann Brown

Spotify insider Troy Carter wasn’t happy when the streaming service announced in May that it would no longer actively promote artists it deemed as having “hate content” or “hateful conduct”. Now Spotify is walking back the policy.

According to the new policy, Spotify said it would not promote content that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.”

R&B star R. Kelly and controversial rapper XXXTentacion were the first to be removed from Spotify’s playlists under the new policy, although the company said users would still be able to find the singers’ music. Both artists have been accused of sexual misconduct.

Carter, Spotify’s global head of creator services, expressed his unhappiness at Spotify’s new Hate Content and Hateful Conduct public policy. Rumors swirled that he was planning to exit the streaming music giant.

“It’s important to us that our values are reflected in all the work that we do, whether it’s distribution, promotion, or content creation,” Spotify said about the new policy.

“Mr. Kelly’s music was pulled from various playlists after a #MuteRKelly social-media campaign aimed to end the 51-year-old’s career, following years of allegations of sexual abuse, particularly of underage girls. In 2002, he was indicted and later acquitted on child-pornography charges. XXXTentacion, a 20-year-old rapper, has been charged with battery and cultivated a reputation for controversial social media posts and public feuds,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Carter joined Spotify in 2016 after working in artist management. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Atom Factory, an entertainment management company that defines popular culture. He is also the co-founder and managing partner at Cross Culture Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm.

Carter called an emergency meeting to discuss the firestorm that happened when Spotify’s new policy was rolled out, the Los Angeles Times reported. Talk around the industry was that he had decided to resign after pushing back against the notion of Spotify’s “determining ‘values.’ ” However, Carter, said these rumors were not true.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that everybody didn’t agree,” Carter told The LA Times. “Spotify is one of those companies where we debate about everything just because it’s such a diverse company. Everybody has different point of views. Everybody has different backgrounds.”

Now comes word that Spotify is walking back on the policy it implemented in May. The company announced in a June 1 blog, “We are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct,” adding that the policy was too vague. “Our role is not to regulate artists,” the company said.

However Spotify continues to stand by the hate content policy. In the blog, it said Spotify “does not permit content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As we’ve done before, we will remove content that violates that standard. We’re not talking about offensive, explicit, or vulgar content – we’re talking about hate speech.”

“We rolled this out wrong, and we could have done a much better job,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said at a conference organized by the technology news website Recode. “It wasn’t to go after being moral police about who did right, who did wrong.”

Troy Carter, co-founder and general partner at Cross Culture Ventures. Photo: crossculturevc.com