Spotify says that Joe Rogan’s content is inconsistent with their company values, but they won’t be ‘silencing’ him by removing his podcast from their platform.
“The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast has made a number of wildly inaccurate claims about COVID-19, vaccines, and videos have surfaced of the conservative podcaster using racist slurs. Other artists have recently been pressuring Spotify to take a stand against misinformation by removing the podcast from the popular audio streaming platform. The issue came to a head last week when musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell both withdrew their music from Spotify. A few others have since followed suit.
“Neil Young opened a door that I must walk through,” wrote India Arie, another musician who has removed her music. “I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his Covid interviews. For me, it’s also his language around race. This shows the type of company they are and the company that they keep.”
Rogan’s podcast is one of the most widely-listened-to podcasts in North America and Europe. Spotify, which has a reputation of severely underpaying musicians, signed a $100 million contract with Rogan in 2020 for the exclusive right to host his podcast.
In a memo to staff, Spotify’s CE Daniel Ek said that Rogan’s comments and podcast “do not represent the values of this company,” and that the platform has had “conversations with Joe and his team about some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language,” that resulted in Rogan removing over 100 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience.” (All still available elsewhere, in violation of his exclusive contract with Spotify). But they have no plans to remove him, or to elevate any other podcast to what he’s being paid.
In a damage mitigation move, Ek has said that he would be investing $100 million into increasing the footprint and visibility of content from historically marginalized groups on Spotify.
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