Streaming numbers for R. Kelly have remained intact a week after Spotify announced it had removed the R&B singer’s music from its playlists, citing its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct.
Spotify made the bold declaration on May 10, but R. Kelly’s streaming numbers are relatively the same with some small growth: Before the announcement, he averaged 6,584,000 weekly streams for the year. But from May 10 to May 16 he garnered 6,676,000 streams for the week, according to Nielsen Music.
R. Kelly’s streams have grown steadily in the last two years: His music averaged 4,709,000 weekly streams in 2016 and 5,666,000 weekly streams in 2017. So far for 2018, he is averaging 6,674,000 weekly streams. While R. Kelly’s streaming has grown, his numbers are small in comparison to Drake, 2017’s most streamed artist: He averaged 112,735,000 weekly streams last year.
Nielsen Music’s numbers are based on audio streams from Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and other music platforms.
The embattled entertainer has been accused of sexual abuse of women though he faces no criminal charges. Spotify removed his music from their promoted playlists and algorithms following a campaign from #MuteRKelly and others to sanction R. Kelly. News outlets have reported that Apple and Pandora are also not promoting the singer’s music, though both companies haven’t officially made announcements like Spotify.
Shaunna Thomas, the co-founder and executive director of the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, said the point is not to stop people from listening to his music, but for companies to stop promoting him.
“Frankly it’s not important in this context whether people are listening to his music or not, what’s important is that Spotify is holding itself to the standard that they themselves established and they live up to it,” Thomas said in an interview Monday.
Thomas wrote a letter to Spotify last week, commending the company for its new policy but also demanded that Spotify remove Chris Brown, Eminem, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and others from its playlists.
“This is really just about stepping into the role of champion, stepping into the role of setting the higher standard that I think they’ve put themselves on the track to do, and hopefully they’ll do the right thing,” Thomas said.
The Time’s Up campaign took aim at R. Kelly late last month over allegations that he has sexually abused women. The organization urged further investigation into the singer’s behavior, which has come under closer scrutiny over the last year in wake of the #MeToo movement, as women have come forward to accuse him of everything from sexual coercion to physical abuse.
Kelly has denied such charges.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-producer was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography after a video circulated appearing to show him having sex with a teenage girl. Despite that, he continued to score hits and sell out arenas.
His career is not as white-hot as it once was: It’s been five years since any of his songs have charted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: His last hit there was his guest appearance on Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want,” which peaked at No. 13 in 2013; his last leading hit was in 2007 with “Same Girl,” which reached No. 20 and co-starred Usher.
Thomas said though R. Kelly’s streaming numbers haven’t changed much, it’s still too early to say that his music won’t be affected by the campaigns against him.
“To argue that these numbers reflect the common consensus about whether people want to be paying for his music and helping him profit off the type of music he creates and the type of person he is, I think it’s very early in the game to suggest that,” she said.