R. Kelly off Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora playlists but remains on Atlanta radio stations

Posted Friday, May 11, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

A concerted effort to get R. Kelly's music off the radio has not worked in Atlanta, but streaming service Spotify earlier this week said it will no longer feature his music on its playlists and algorithmic recommendations.

This doesn't prevent its 70 million subscribers from creating playlists with his music on it or to listen to his music.

"His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it," Spotify told Billboard magazone. "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. 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."

UPDATE: Pandora and Apple Music followed suit on Friday.

"I was excited," said  Oronike Odeleye, managing director of Atlanta arts organization Creative Currents Artist Collaborative who is also part of the #MuteRKelly movement. She is fine with what Spotify did because it reduces exposure of R. Kelly music to new listeners. "I hope this has a domino effect."

Last month, syndicated host Tom Joyner, heard on Classix 102.9 locally, also agreed to stop playing his music during his morning show.

Odeleye has continued to place pressure on radio stations to pull R. Kelly off their playlists but so far, local R&B stations continue to play the artist, who has been battling accusations for decades about his involvement with under-age women.

Three local radio stations -- Kiss 104.1, V-103 and Majic 107.5/97.5 -- played R. Kelly songs over the past week, according to Mediabase 24/7, which tracks radio airplay for major stations. Kiss spun him 20 times, Majic 18 times and V-103 twice.

He last performed in Atlanta last August and  Odeleye  tried to stop that concert from happening but he performed after all. He has not scheduled a concert locally yet this year and Odeleye thinks some promoters are spooked and unwilling to take him on. She also said some radio stations are not willing to promote his concerts by giving away tickets or running ads although they continue to play his songs. 

She credits the #MeToo and #TimeUp movements for helping her cause. She is in regular contact with leaders of both groups.

Kiss 104.1 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitutition are both part of Cox Media Group. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.