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Big Revolution - Spotify takes a refreshing stance

Friday's Big Revolution is here.  In case you were wondering about the meeting with BlackBerry I ment
May 11 · Issue #75 · View online
Big Revolution
Friday’s Big Revolution is here. 
In case you were wondering about the meeting with BlackBerry I mentioned yesterday, it went well. It made me realise that the company’s transformation from failing device maker to security software and consultancy firm is a truly fascinating business story. My former boss Boris reminded me there’s a book about part of the story. It probably needs an update.

Big things you need to know today
- RIP Klout. The much-mocked social influence measurement is closing later this month. They don’t say as much, but the closure date suggests its owners couldn’t find a way to easily make it GDPR-compliant.
- Spotify is banning music by controversial artists including R Kelly from its in-house produced playlists and promotion drives. Their music will continue to be available for streaming. More on this below.
- Medium has abruptly cancelled partnerships with a number of publishers. This is the latest short-notice change of direction for the company that has caught partners off guard. Ironically, it comes in the same week as the latest profile piece about how Medium’s CEO will “fix the internet.”
- IBM is banning all staff from using removable storage like USB thumb drives and SD cards, for security reasons. “The possible financial and reputational damage from misplaced, lost or misused removable portable storage devices must be minimised,” the company says.
- Facebook’s stock price has now fully recovered after the hit it took from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The big thought
You won't find R Kelly on these official playlists. Credit: Pankaj Patel on Unsplash
Spotify takes a refreshing stance
Back when I left university, the first proper non-temp job I got was working as a media technician in a school. The most fun part of the job was running the radio station, which had a proper license for broadcasting in the local area. 
Given we were a school, we had to be really careful with the playlist. Many of the kids loved hip-hop and R&B, but we had to be selective about which tracks we allowed, so nothing too sexual or violent was included. We also had a quiet ban on R Kelly. Even back in the early ‘00s, rumours were rife about his behaviour, and playing his music to an audience of teenagers in our care just didn’t seem right.
We never explained the ban to the kids – they just had to accept that for some reason we never had a copy of Ignition Remix, his big hit back then.
I was reminded of this yesterday, when Spotify announced its ban of R Kelly’s music from its own playlists and promotions. On one hand, I felt like our decision back at the school radio station was years ahead of its time (in a good way) but there are good arguments against such a ban, too.
Spotify is such a big force in music streaming that its actions have a broader effect than one big radio station banning an artist. And if Spotify is banning artists based just on (a lot of) allegations, should it remove many more artists that have faced allegations untested in a court of law? And why no mention of a ban on someone like Chris Brown?
There are no easy answers to these questions, but what’s refreshing to see is that Spotify has drawn a clear marker other tech firms seem uncomfortable with. It has admitted that at least part of its business is as a media company with editorial responsibilities. 
Sure, R Kelly’s label can upload his music, and his fans can listen to it – Spotify the platform is fine with that and makes no judgement. But Spotify the editorial curator of music playlists has made a decision based partly on public opinion and partly on a stance it has chosen to take. That’s what editors do, and it’s refreshing to see a tech company go there in such a high-profile way.
One big read
Google’s software design is having a reformation Google’s software design is having a reformation
If you’re a design nerd, you’ll love this look at the new design language rolling out across Google’s apps. I particularly like the new Google News app, which hit my Android phone last night – it really is beautiful.
One big tweet
Ashley Mayer
You know we can all see when you retweet yourself, right? 👀
2:02 AM - 11 May 2018
Retweeting yourself can look a bit ‘thirsty,’ but sometimes you’ve just got to take the hit…
That’s all for today...
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