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YouTube drops R. Kelly’s official channels — are Spotify, Apple next?

06 October 2021 - 13:12 By Jahnavi Nidumolu and Aakriti Bhalla
Singer R. Kelly has been convicted of sex trafficking. File photo.
Singer R. Kelly has been convicted of sex trafficking. File photo.
Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

YouTube said it has removed R&B singer R. Kelly’s channels from its video platform, distancing itself from the singer after he was convicted of sex trafficking last month.

R. Kelly was convicted by a US federal jury in September in his sex trafficking trial. Prosecutors accused the singer of exploiting his stardom over more than 20 years to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex.

Two of his channels, RKellyTV and RKellyVevo, have been removed from one of the world’s largest video platforms and the singer will no longer be able to create or own any other YouTube channel, YouTube said on Monday after a request from Reuters for comment.

The catalogue of his music will, however, be available on YouTube Music, YouTube’s audio streaming service, and the videos uploaded by other YouTube users will continue to be available.

“We can confirm we have terminated two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines,” a YouTube spokesperson said.

The MuteRKelly campaign, founded by two black women in 2017 to try to remove the singer’s music from the air waves, said on Twitter it was waiting for Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and others to follow suit.

Contacted outside regular US business hours, Spotify, Apple and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters seeking comment on whether they would be taking similar action over R Kelly’s music available on their platforms.

His music has largely disappeared from radio but is still available on streaming platforms. His hit record I Believe I Can Fly was for years a popular choice at graduation ceremonies.

The disgraced singer faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars, and could face up to life in prison at his May 4, 2022 sentencing.

The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is one of the most prominent people tried on sex charges during the #MeToo movement, which amplified accusations that had dogged him since the early 2000s.