Spotify CEO Daniel Ek apologized to the company’s employees in an internal memo on Sunday, adding that he “strongly” condemns Joe Rogan’s use of racial slurs, a statement that comes amid a growing backlash against the platform for hosting Rogan’s podcast after clips of him using racial slurs and other derogatory language on older episodes resurfaced online.
In an internal memo sent to staffers, Ek said that Rogan’s comments were “incredibly hurtful” and did not represent the values of the company, various outlets reported.
Acknowledging the impact of the controversy on the company’s staff members, Ek said he was “deeply sorry.”
Despite this the Spotify chief doubled down on not removing Rogan’s podcast from the streaming platform stating that “silencing Joe is not the answer,” and “canceling voices” was a slippery slope.
According to Ek, it was Rogan who requested the platform remove some of his older episodes after discussions with the company, a decision the Spotify CEO said he agreed with.
Ek added that he was committing an “incremental investment of $100 million” to license, develop and market content created by historically marginalized groups.
“While some might want us to pursue a different path, I believe that more speech on more issues can be highly effective in improving the status quo and enhancing the conversation altogether,” Ek said in the internal statement.
113. That’s the number of episodes of the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast that have been taken down by Spotify so far, according to a tracker called JRE Missing. This number includes the 71 episodes that were taken down by the platform on Sunday.
Last week, musician India Arie shared a compilation video on Instagram highlighting multiple instances of Joe Rogan using racial slurs on his show and one segment where he likens a predominantly Black neighborhood to the movie the Planet of the Apes. On Saturday, Rogan issued an apology on social media for “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” Despite claiming that the clips were taken out of context, he added that they looked “horrible” even to him. The latest controversy around Rogan comes just a week after his podcast faced widespread backlash for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines. Several musicians like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby and others removed their music from Spotify in protest. The ongoing controversy and a burgeoning boycott of the platform are a major test for Spotify which reportedly paid more than $100 million in 2020 to exclusively host Rogan’s podcast. The podcast reportedly garners 11 million listeners per episode, making it the platform’s most popular show.
Spotify CEO Apologizes to Employees for Joe Rogan Backlash, Says He Won’t Silence Star Podcaster (Wall Street Journal)
Spotify CEO Apologizes to Staff Over Joe Rogan N-Word Controversy (Variety)