Two of R. Kelly’s YouTube channels have been permanently removed by the platform, a week after he was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
On Tuesday (October 5), YouTube pulled the disgraced R&B singer’s official channels, RKellyTV and RKellyVevo, while prohibiting Kelly from using, creating or owning any other channels on the platform.
The terminated channels had more than 5 million subscribers combined and housed videos such as “I Believe I Can Fly,” “Bump N’ Grind” and “Ignition (Remix).”
The move was made in accordance with YouTube’s creator responsibility guidelines, which allows them to suspend a channel if its owner is convicted of or pleads guilty to egregious crimes and their channel’s content is closely related to the crimes.
YouTube cited the fact that R. Kelly’s prosecution was based on the allegation that he leveraged his celebrity and status in the music industry to sexually abuse women and young girls.
“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 said. “Ultimately we are taking this action to protect our users similar to other platforms.”
Existing R. Kelly content uploaded by other users, however, will still be allowed on YouTube, while the 54-year-old singer’s catalog will continue to be available on the platform’s paid streaming service, YouTube Music.
Kenyette Tisha Barnes, one of the founders of the #MuteRKelly campaign, told NBC News she believes YouTube’s move is “the beginning of a seismic paradigm shift of R. Kelly’s legacy.”
The official #MuteRKelly Twitter account reacted to the news by calling on other streaming services to follow YouTube’s lead. “Waiting on you @youtubemusic, and you too @Spotify @AppleMusic @AmazonMusic, etc,” read the tweet.
As of press time, Kelly’s music is still available on Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL and Amazon Music.
— MuteRKelly-Official (@OffMuteRKelly) October 6, 2021
Back in 2018, Spotify removed Kelly’s music from their owned and operated playlists in line with its Hate Content and Hateful Conduct policy. Apple Music and Pandora took similar action.
However, Spotify’s decision prompted backlash from across the music industry and R. Kelly’s streams actually increased. It’s unlikely YouTube’s move will provoke a similar response following the singer’s guilty verdict, though.
Last Monday (September 27), R. Kelly was convicted on all charges in his highly-publicized racketeering and sex trafficking case in New York.
The R&B icon was found guilty of one count of racketeering, with 14 underlying acts including sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping and sex trafficking charges. He was also found guilty of eight additional counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law.
R. Kelly will be sentenced on May 4, 2022 and faces 10 years to life in prison. He is also set to stand trial in two other sex-related cases in Minnesota and his native Chicago.