Spotify CEO: Silencing Joe Rogan not ‘the answer’


Spotify is not able to half methods with the favored podcast host regardless of intense criticism over his anti-COVID vaccine feedback and racial slurs.

NEW YORK — Joe Rogan’s mouth has put Spotify in a troublesome spot, however the streaming large is seemingly not able to half methods with the favored podcast host regardless of intense criticism over his anti-coronavirus vaccine feedback and racial slurs.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek mentioned in a message to staff launched Sunday that the company would not half methods with Rogan.

“While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more,” Ek said in the note. “And I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”

The letter is the clearest indication but of the place Spotify stands on Rogan’s destiny with the company. It reportedly paid $100 million to solely host the podcast, so dropping Rogan threatens the underside line however can also be a key a part of the company’s technique to be a one-stop store for audio.

“We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope. Looking at the issue more broadly, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress,” Ek wrote. He mentioned he was “deeply sorry” for the affect the controversy was having on Spotify’s workforce.

Whether Spotify continues to maintain Rogan or cuts ties, the choice doubtless gained’t sit properly with one aspect or the opposite in an more and more polarized nation.

On race, the selection is between preserving Rogan and sending a message that society has turn out to be too “woke” or displaying that Spotify is extra attuned to a multiracial society, mentioned Adia Harvey Wingfield, a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“If Spotify says ‘We can’t drop him. He has the right to say what he wants,’ that continues on the line where there is this implicit support to say racist things on these platforms,” she mentioned in an interview earlier than Ek’s letter.

The streaming web site additionally has to resolve whether or not offensive phrases are allowable elsewhere on its app, the place songs with racist, homophobic and anti-immigrant messages can be found, mentioned John Wihbey, a Northeastern University professor and specialist in rising applied sciences.

“There’s some real self-examination to be doing beyond Joe,” Wihbey mentioned. “This is a big moment of reckoning for entertainment and streaming platforms to see where the window is, what’s over the line.”

The bottom-line question must be fairly easy for Spotify, mentioned Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business and legislation professor. The conservative Rogan stands in distinction to the way more liberal musicians who generate the majority of Spotify’s income, he mentioned.

“They can’t blow off the artists. The artists make Spotify,” Gordon mentioned. “They need to settle up with Rogan, let him go to a home that will be consistent with who he is. And everybody will be better off.”

Having Rogan on Spotify is like having a political get together with Donald Trump because the presidential candidate and liberal Elizabeth Warren as vp. “It isn’t going to work,” Gordon mentioned.

Spotify reviews having 406 million lively month-to-month customers, up almost 20% from final year, and promoting has grown largely due to podcasting. The company had 31% of the 524 million music streaming subscriptions worldwide within the second quarter of 2021, greater than double that of second-place Apple Music, in line with Midia Research.

Rogan’s public troubles began on Jan. 24 when musician Neil Young requested to have his music eliminated due to issues that Rogan was selling skepticism in regards to the COVID-19 vaccines. Other artists adopted go well with, together with Joni Mitchell and Roxane Gay.

The scrutiny solely intensified when a video compilation emerged final week displaying Rogan repeatedly utilizing racial slurs. Grammy-winning artist India.Arie posted it on her Instagram, utilizing the hashtag #DeleteSpotify.

Spotify mentioned beforehand that it might quickly add a warning to all podcasts that debate COVID-19, directing listeners to factual, up-to-date info from scientists and public well being specialists.

“They take this money that’s built from streaming, and they pay this guy $100 million, but they pay us like .003% of a penny,” Arie wrote. “I don’t want to generate money that pays that.”

Rogan apologized Saturday, saying that the slurs had been the “most regretful and shameful thing” he has ever needed to handle and that he hasn’t used the N-word in years.

Ek advised The Wall Street Journal final week that he took duty for being “too slow to respond” to the criticism over vaccine misinformation. It took the company 5 days to reply publicly to Young.

“It’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time,” Ek continued in an announcement.

Rogan is an odd mixture of shock-jock and host who leads discussions of public coverage, arts and tradition, Wihbey mentioned, describing his model as conservative “bro America.”

His feedback had been clearly racist, Wihbey mentioned, however he hopes that Rogan will see this as an opportunity to substantively talk about race and vaccine points in future episodes. His viewers could not hear the discussions in any other case, Wihbey mentioned.

“I do think that assembling this kind of audience is important,” he mentioned. “He can say things that I think can move the needle.”

Wingfield mentioned the controversy might be constructive if it begins a shift to discussions of racial stereotypes.

“I think that if Joe Rogan kind of learns from this experience and becomes a driving voice for that conversation, that could be really valuable,” she mentioned. “But I want to stress again that that’s a pretty big if, and I don’t know if it will come to that.”