Disturbing videos of Joe Rogan are shared, Rogan apologizes, episodes are removed from Spotify and CEO Daniel Ek sends a memo to employees.

The last time we looked at this story, Spotify and Joe Rogan both responded after Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and other artists removed their music from the streaming service due to COVID-19 misinformation on Spotify’s exclusive Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced changes such as highlighting their Platform Rules and adding content advisory labels to podcasts with discussions of COVID. Rogan agreed with these changes and going forward plans to feature guests with differing views.

Since then, the story has developed further, with singer-songwriter India Arie removing her music and podcasts from Spotify, but not for COVID misinformation. The artist shared clips on her Instagram Stories of Rogan in podcasts using the N-word over 20 times, as well as a clip of Rogan talking about seeing the film “Planet of the Apes in a predominantly Black neighbourhood.

Listeners noticed Spotify had removed 113 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, including those of Rogan using the slur. Neither Spotify nor Rogan have made public comments around the removal.

Joe Rogan posted a video to Instagram talking about the compilation of him saying the N-word, explaining the clips were taken out of context and weren’t used in a racist manner, however agrees now that regardless of context, he should have never used the word.

Spotify once again find themselves in a tough situation, knowing they’ll face backlash whether they keep Rogan on the platform or cancel his contract. Joe Rogan on the other hand, if deplatformed would have no problem finding a new service to sign a contract with.

While they are yet to make any public comments, Daniel Ek sent a memo to Spotify employees that was shared with The Wall Street Journal. Ek confirmed the episodes were taken down, however says this was Rogan and his team’s decision, though he agrees. He goes on to apologise for the hurtful comments made on Rogan’s podcasts. “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope.” Seemingly looking to match the $100 million Joe Rogan reportedly received for exclusivity back in 2020, Spotify will be spending this much on licensing, developing and marketing audio content from historically marginalised groups:

If we believe in having an open platform as a core value of the company, then we must also believe in elevating all types of creators, including those from underrepresented communities and a diversity of backgrounds. We’ve been doing a great deal of work in this area already but I think we can do even more. So I am committing to an incremental investment of $100 million for the licensing, development, and marketing of music (artists and songwriters) and audio content from historically marginalized groups.

Daniel Ek, CEO, Spotify in a memo to employees