With its rollout and repeal of a hateful conduct and content policy a few months behind it, Spotify is trying a different approach to controversial music — this time, handing over the responsibility to users. The streaming service has quietly introduced a much-requested feature in its mobile app allowing users to block an artist from automatically playing.
The feature, first spotted by tech website Thurrott, lives in the small upper-right-hand menu on artist pages. Between “Follow” and “Share,” Users now have the option to select “Don’t play this artist,” which blocks the artist from playing in personal and curated playlists, charts, radio stations and a user’s personal library. The artist’s name will still appear in all of those places, however, as well as in search results; his or her music just will not automatically play in the queue unless manually selected. The blocking feature is currently available only on mobile devices, not the desktop app or site; it is also a feature that appears to have been in “serious consideration” for a few years now.
Spotify removed a small handful of artists including R. Kelly from its editorial playlists last year, largely in response to the #MuteRKelly movement, which has called for his music to be removed from distribution in light of repeated sexual assault allegations. It restored Kelly and the other artists a few weeks later after public outcry about the service trying to be a moral police for the entertainment industry.
But after a Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly debuted earlier this month, protests and pressure from music fans and industry figures to scrub Kelly from platforms have now reached a fever pitch — to the point where both his label and publisher (Sony’s RCA Records and Universal Music Publishing Group, respectively) have removed the singer from their artist and songwriter rosters. Spotify did not immediately respond to request for comment on whether the blocking feature will become more widely available.