YouTube pulled two channels linked to R. Kelly after he was found guilty on all counts in a federal sex-trafficking trial last week, the company said.
However, Kelly's songs and albums will continue to be available on the YouTube Music service, and user-generated content incorporating Kelly's music is still allowed on the main platform.
YouTube terminated the channels tied to Kelly in accordance with its creator responsibility guidelines. The guidelines state that if channel owners are accused of very egregious crimes, the platform can terminate their channels if the content is closely related to the crimes and the channel owners were convicted or pleaded guilty.
Kelly, who has vehemently and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, was found guilty of being the orchestrator of a long-running scheme to recruit women and underage girls for sex.
YouTube cited the fact that the prosecution against Kelly, 54, a Grammy-winning R&B singer, was based on the allegation that he leveraged his celebrity and power in the music industry to sexually abuse women and young girls.
Kelly will no longer be able to use, own or create any other YouTube channels, the platform decided. The service will delete a new channel if it is used to re-upload content from a previously terminated account.
Kelly's music is accessible on YouTube's major competitors, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
After last week'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 and Amazon did not respond to questions 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 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 "I Believe I Can Fly" and other smash hits.
But with the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017, he 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.
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.
YouTube's decision is "the beginning of the seismic paradigm shift of R. Kelly's legacy," Barnes said in a text message Tuesday night. "It was his music that allowed him to buy himself out of accountability. ... It is my hope that other platforms follow suit and Mute R. Kelly."
But data on streaming platforms suggest 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.
[via NBC News]