R. Kelly was found guilty of several charges including racketeering and sexual trafficking. So what happens to his music?
In May 2018, Spotify removed R. Kelly’s music from its official playlists. The biggest music streaming app in America said it wanted its “editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values.”
Three years later, Kelly’s tracks are still absent from Spotify’s influential curated packages.
But the superstar’s full discography was still available on the service’s app as of Tuesday morning, a day after he was found guilty on all counts in a sex-trafficking trial.
Kelly’s music was also easily accessible on Spotify’s major competitors, including Apple Music, Amazon Music and the Google-owned provider YouTube Music.
In the wake of Monday’s verdict, some on social media redoubled their efforts to push the major music streaming services to pull Kelly’s discography, arguing in part that it was wrong to provide a global platform — and possible royalty revenues — to a convicted serial sexual predator.
Spotify, Apple, Amazon and YouTube did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about what they planned to do with Kelly’s music library and what criteria they might consider for removing the entirety of an artist’s work.
Kelly, 54, was trailed by troubling accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse for decades even as he climbed the Billboard charts, won Grammy Awards and entered the R&B pantheon with smash hits like “I Believe I Can Fly.”
But with the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017, the artist started to face deeper scrutiny. #MuteRKelly, a grassroots campaign co-founded by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Tisha Barnes, worked to stop his music from being played on the radio or via streaming services.
“I started #MuteRKelly in July 2017 out of a feeling of outrage. After decades of blatantly abusing Black women and girls, R. Kelly was going on with his life with our community-sanctioned support,” Odeleye, who is Black, told HuffPost in February.
The campaign has been successful in certain clear ways. Kelly’s music is said to have largely vanished from the radio, and songs that were once mainstays of graduation ceremonies, weddings and backyard parties have faded.
But data on streaming platforms suggests that the appetite for his 1990s and 2000s-era hits has not waned.
He racks up nearly 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, according to information at the top of his artist page on the app.
George Howard, a professor of music business and management at Berklee College of Music, told NBC News he believes the need to remove Kelly’s music from streaming services has become even more urgent since the jury in the artist’s federal trial returned a guilty verdict.
“I think it became far less problematic with the decision that went down [Monday],” Howard said. “We are now dealing with a different class of decision-making.”
“I think, from an ethical framework, we as a society have to decide at what point we divorce an artistic output from a creator,” he said.
“I think we can all agree that at no point in modern history has it ever been acceptable to sexually abuse children.”
“It’s a no-brainer to me,” he added, “and that behavior far outweighs any sort of artistic merit.”
What sentence does R Kelly face?
After being found guilty on all nine counts brought against him, Kelly now faces a life sentence in prison.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer for some of Kelly’s victims said, that of all of the predators she’s gone after, “Mr. Kelly is the worst.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in its Monday news release that Kelly will face a “mandatory minimum” of 10 years in prison and could face life behind bars.
When is R Kelly’s sentence hearing?
Kelly will face sentencing for his crimes on May 4, 2022. Until then the judge ordered that Kelly remain in custody until he receives his sentence.
If Kelly’s lawyers appeal against the verdicts it’s possible that this date could move depending on the outcome of that.
Which prison will R Kelly go to?
Kelly was initially arrested and kept within the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago before being moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn in June 2021 as he faced trial in New York.
It is not yet clear which prison he will be transferred to after he is sentenced in May 2022.