YouTube removes official channels from singer R Kelly days after sex trafficking conviction

Top line

YouTube removed two channels linked to R. Kelly from its platform on Tuesday, a week after the R&B singer was convicted by a federal jury of sex trafficking and racketeering in a trial where prosecutors charged the singer with ” using her fame to lure underage women and girls into her orbit for the purpose of sexual exploitation.


Two of Kelly’s official YouTube channels, RKellyTV and RKellyVevo, have been removed from the video-sharing platform and the singer will no longer be allowed to create or own another YouTube channel, Reuters reported.

The channel takedown complies with YouTube’s Creator Liability Guidelines, which allow the platform to suspend a channel if its owner is accused of gross crimes and the content on their channels is closely linked to the crimes.

Despite the suspension, other users’ content incorporating Kelly’s music will still be permitted on YouTube, and the singer’s songs and albums will continue to be available on the platform’s paid streaming service, YouTube Music.

Forbes has contacted YouTube’s parent company, Google, for comment.

At the time of publication, Kelly’s music is also available on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

Crucial quote

The #MuteRKelly campaign – a movement started by two black women in 2017 that called on radio and streaming services to stop playing Kelly’s music – responded to the move by Tweeter: “I’m waiting for you @youtubemusic, and you too @Spotify @AppleMusic @AmazonMusic, etc.” Kenyette Tisha Barnes, one of the campaign’s founders, told NBC News that Youtube’s decision was “the start of a seismic paradigm shift from R. Kelly’s legacy … I hope others platforms will follow suit and cut the sound of R. Kelly “.

Key context

Last week, the R&B singer was convicted of eight counts of violating Mann’s Law or trafficking in women across states for sexual purposes, and one count of racketeering for criminal conduct, including including the sexual exploitation of children and forced labor. Kelly, who appeared in New York federal court, had pleaded not guilty to all counts last year and has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. Allegations of sexual abuse have followed the award-winning singer and music producer for decades, but formal charges were only filed after several women spoke out against Kelly in 2018 at the height of the Me Too movement and that the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” was released in 2019.

Further reading

R&B singer R. Kelly convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering (Forbes)

YouTube drops official channels for R&B singer R. Kelly (Reuters)

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