Wednesday, May 16, 2018

R. Kelly/Spotify…& Apple & Pandora… | Lefsetz Letter

The goalposts have moved.

If you’d asked me about this a year ago, I’d be testifying about free speech, decrying Spotify, et al’s, moves.

But as Bob Dylan once put it, things have changed.

Yes, it appears these artists are being punished without being convicted. But this is no different from Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Schneiderman… This is the way it’s been going. Is it right? Probably not, but this is what happens when you have decades, centuries, millennia of sexual abuse. Kinda like the L.A. riots, does anybody trust the police since, the rappers were right. Kinda like Watergate, lawyers went from heroes to zeros overnight. So…

The court of public opinion convicted R. Kelly. He’s been skating.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a President who’s committed multiple sexual faux pas and not only got elected, but is continuing to serve. And save me your tribal diatribe, you’re a right winger, you support Trump, I get it, but do you support sexual abuse?

I doubt it.

And let’s not forget, Spotify, et al, are not banning R. Kelly from their services, they’re just not PROMOTING HIM! Just like every artist does not get an endcap at physical retail, just like every artist does not get on the Apple or Spotify homepage. You can still find his music, still listen to him, but you’ve got to want to, it’s not being foisted on people willy-nilly.

You don’t have to look back in history too far to see the same thing. David Geffen dropped the Geto Boys. Didn’t prevent them from making new music. Should Spotify, et al, be complicit in advancing the career of R. Kelly? Many of his victims would say no.

What does this impend in the sphere, what about other bad actors, or ACCUSED bad actors?

I know, I know, the hoi polloi like a rebel, but to what degree have artists fed into this, perpetrated it, is this good for society? Maybe if we send a message if you abuse women we won’t promote your music men will stop, isn’t that a good thing?

And when YouTube and Facebook didn’t police hate speech and inaccuracies, look what happened, Russia came in and spread fake news, and bad actors were all over YouTube with heinous messages, should there be a line?

I think most people would say yes, they believe in truth, they don’t want it obfuscated, and we’re a long way from the fairness rule, you can be victimized by algorithms that feed you stuff reinforcing beliefs that no one should have.

Oh, please don’t take this to an extreme conclusion, about all tracks being banned, about chilling free speech, that’s not what this is about.

And the male-dominated record industry has been based on abusing women, it was the ethos of heavy metal, the only thing that’s curbed this behavior is cellphone cameras and social media, should we ban them so men can continue to invade women with mud sharks?

And if one remembers, rap acts used to sample willy-nilly, without getting the rights, as a result of lawsuits/crackdown, they started making original beats. Was this a good thing or a bad one? I don’t know, but we need a rule of law.

Then again, that’s the issue here, R. Kelly has not been convicted.

But let’s retry all those rape cases now, where the juries believed the perp. I bet a lot would come out the other way. And the more sunlight and changed values we have, the more women are willing to come forward, to hold bad actors accountable and change behavior.

Women don’t have much of a voice in the music business. That does not mean Spotify doing the right thing, a company run by Swedish men, is bad.

Once again, I’m troubled by the conviction of men in the marketplace who have not been convicted in court. But that rule no longer applies. And at what point do you save future women (girls!) from abuse? Do you just let someone continue to rape until a court convicts them?

This is complicated, and touchy. Where is the line?

Damned if I know.

But we’re trying to find it. This is the only way we can, by making moves, taking chances.

I don’t want to live in a society where abusing women gets a pass. I don’t want to live in a society where music is the abuser in chief, under the rubric of “free speech.”

This is not Tipper Gore and the PRMC. No one is saying R. Kelly can’t make music. No one is saying people can’t listen to it. Hell, there’s no warning attached to his tunes regarding his behavior. This is solely a decision not to promote.

And the most vocal people challenging this are…

Right wingers, who out of the other side of their mouth support our abusing President.

And musicians and their support teams who fear falling on the wrong side of this equation.

Are we gonna make Spotify, et al, the new NRA? Protecting the right to “kill,” despite so many being sacrificed in the process?

Turns out schoolchildren want gun regulation. And I’d say most people want to rule out hate speech and sexual abuse.

Once again, we’re trying to find the line.

And if you’re one of those blowhards pointing to Bill Clinton…


That was then and this is now.

Never forget it.


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