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SPOTIFY-APPLE UPDATE

The flap over the removal of artists from key Spotify playlists based on “hate content” and misdeeds, which has fueled rumors of Troy Carter’s departure from the company later this year, has also fired speculation about company operative Jonathan Prince, who is said to have been the engine behind the announcement. 

Prince joined Spotify in 2014 as global head of communications and public policy after serving in D.C. under Presidents Obama and Clinton, as well as spearheading the New York mayoral campaign of Bill Thompson as a partner at the PR firm of Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates. Though Prince no longer heads communications for the company—he now presents himself as a policy and strategy specialist there—he is said to remain close to boss Daniel Ek. In his time at Spotify, Prince is believed to have been the instigator of the Taylor Swift skirmishes, the defense of the so-called “fake artists” and the whispering campaign alleging that rights holders were colluding with Apple about diminishing the influence of Spotify’s free ad-supported tier.

As for the new policy itself, Top Dawg Entertainment President Punch responded, “Whoa. Are they censoring the music? That’s dangerous. It’s a super-sensitive topic; a conversation needs to be had. There are way too many variables.” This was underscored by multiple reports of demands from activists to remove other artists from playlists; the organization Ultraviolet, for example, called for both Chris Brown and Eminem to be similarly moved off Spotify's main real estate. Will the labels and publishers stand up for their artists? Then there is the whole issue of "hate content," which threatens to be defined so broadly as to include songs specifically attacking bigotry. Not that it appears on many playlists just now, but where does a song like Randy Newman's "Rednecks" fall under the new code? 

"They opened the door and anyone could have told them this was going to happen," remarked one biz insider. "Half-steps don’t work on these issues. They are idiots."

As for Apple, which just announced 50m+ subscribers, despite multiple reports suggesting that the tech giant’s subscription service has followed Spotify’s lead in removing R. Kelly from its playlists, industry insiders are pointing out that Kelly remains on hundreds of Apple Music playlists; the company has, it should be added, refrained from issuing any formal policy edicts on the matter.

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