Spotify Technology CEO Daniel EK apologized to staff for the controversy surrounding podcaster Joe Rogan’s use of racial slur in previous podcast episodes. Despite this, he claimed to have no plans to remove Rogan from the platform.
“There are no words I can say to adequately convey how deeply sorry I am for the way ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ controversy continues to impact each of you,” said EK, to Spotify staffers. “Not only are some of Rogan’s comments incredibly hurtful, I want to make clear that they do not represent the values carried by this company. I’m aware that this situation leaves many of you feeling drained, frustrated and unheard.”
EK went further to say that Rogan had removed a few episodes from Spotify (ticker: SPOT) following extensive discussions with the company. EK also added that while he strongly condemns what Rogan said on the platform, and he believes that Rogan’s decision to remove some of the episodes from the platform was sound, he doesn’t think that silencing Rogan is the answer. “We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, However, cancelling voices is a slippery slope. Looking at the issue from a broader perspective, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress.”
Ek announced that the company planned to spend $100 million on music and audio content from what he called “historically marginalized” groups. Rogan, whose podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience”, is one of the most popular podcasts across the U.S, responded in an Instagram post that using the n-word was “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk publicly about.”
The question of how long the controversy will last remains a great debate as even other celebrities reacted to the comments made on the podcast. India Arie shared a compilation video of Joe Rogan saying the n-word repeatedly and requested her music be taken down from Spotify. She joined other artists like Neil Young, who also asked that Spotify take down their music. Arie’s complaints were founded on Rogan’s language about race and his conversations regarding how much money Spotify pays the podcaster- a reported $100 million for exclusive distribution rights.
In late January, Spotify received other complaints about Rogan’s podcast, this time regarding the misinformation he was spreading about Covid-19 vaccines. Health officials and musicians rebuked Rogan’s statements, leading to Young being the first musician to leave the platform. Spotify then went into damage control mode and announced that it would add content advisories for anything containing a discussion about covid in what it termed a new effort to fight misinformation.
Spotify stock dropped by as much as 18% after trading hours last Wednesday after the company released guidance for the first quarter, pointing to a slump in subscriber growth. The company announced that it expects to add only 3 million new premium subscribers for quarterly growth of 1.7%.