R. Kelly‘s music has been pulled from YouTube – technically.
The streaming video giant permanently suspended two of the disgraced R&B singer’s channels, days after he was found guilty of sex trafficking. He’ll no longer be able to create any new channels in the future, wiping away two channels (RKellyTV and RKellyVevo) which had a combined 5.1 million subscribers for violation of its terms of service.
Kelly’s music catalog, however, will still be available to listeners on YouTube Music.
“Egregious actions committed by R. Kelly warrant penalties beyond standard enforcement measures due to a potential to cause widespread harm,” YouTube VP of legal Nicole Alston wrote in a memo, as reported by Bloomberg. “Ultimately we are taking this action to protect our users similar to other platforms.”
The singer’s official accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have also recently been disabled, a move long coming in the movement to silence Kelly for his alleged actions towards women, girls and boys and writing songs about it. He’ll be sentenced on May 4, 2022, after a federal jury found him guilty of racketeering and eight charges of sex trafficking across state lines.
YouTube states it pulled down Kelly’s channels in alignment with its policy on “creator responsibility”. The policy prohibits “on- and/or off-platform behavior that we may consider to be inappropriate,” including “intending to cause malicious harm to others” and “participating in abuse or violence, demonstrating cruelty, or participating in fraudulent/deceptive behavior leading to real-world harm.”
Spotify enacted a similar policy in 2018 when it pulled Kelly and artists such as XXXTENTACION from its playlists, citing “hateful conduct.”
Kelly hasn’t officially been banished from the music industry entirely. His longtime label, RCA Records, split with him in January 2019, weeks after the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. His music, however, remains available to stream on major music-streaming platforms and nearly his entire catalog remains with RCA.
On September 27, Kelly was found guilty in a New York federal court of being the ringleader of a scheme to recruit women and young girls for sex. The move came decades after women first alleged abuse at his hands, plus extensive reporting from Jim DeRogatis, who first broke the story of Kelly’s alleged abuse in 2000. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of 14 charges of child pornography in Illinois after initially being charged years prior. He faces additional sex abuse charges in the state regarding new accusations.