Despite widespread condemnation of his anti-coronavirus vaccination statements and racist insults, Joe Rogan’s mouth has left Spotify in a difficult position, as the streaming giant appears unwilling to split ways with the popular podcast presenter.
In a communication to staff sent out on Sunday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek stated that the firm will not cut ways with Rogan.
“While I strongly oppose what Joe stated and agree with his choice to delete previous episodes from our platform,” Ek said in the email, “I recognize some will demand more.” “And I want to be clear about one thing: I do not believe that isolating Joe is the solution.”
The letter is the most definitive indication yet of Spotify’s position on Rogan’s future at the firm. It spent $100 million to exclusively host the podcast, so eliminating Rogan puts the company’s business line at risk, but it’s also a vital aspect of the company’s plan to become a one-stop shop for audio.
“We should draw clear limits around material and respond when they are violated, but muting voices is a dangerous path to tread.” Looking at the issue more broadly, “genuine and required improvement is powered by critical thought and free discussion,” Ek said. He expressed his “deep regret” for the negative impact the dispute was having on Spotify’s employees.
Whether Spotify keeps Rogan or pulls connections, the choice is sure to anger one side or the other in a country that is becoming increasingly polarized.
According to Adia Harvey Wingfield, a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, the decision is between maintaining Rogan and giving the message that society has gotten too “woke” or demonstrating that Spotify is more responsive to a multiracial culture.
“If Spotify says, ‘We can’t drop him,’ I’ll take it. “He has the freedom to say anything he wants,” she added in an interview before Ek’s letter, “which continues on the line where there is this implicit approval to express racist things on these platforms.”
According to John Wihbey, a Northeastern University professor and expert on emerging technologies, the streaming site must also decide if inappropriate phrases are allowed elsewhere on its app, where music with racist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant lyrics are available.
“Beyond Joe, there’s some serious self-examination to be done,” Wihbey added. “For entertainment and streaming platforms, this is a significant moment of reckoning to evaluate where the window is and what’s beyond the line.”
According to Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business and law expert, the bottom-line question for Spotify should be rather straightforward. According to Rogan, the conservative Rogan contrasts with the considerably more liberal musicians who make the majority of Spotify’s income.
“They can’t just dismiss the artists.” “Spotify is made by the artists,” Gordon explained. “They need to work things out with Rogan and find him a home that is compatible with who he is.” And everyone will be better off as a result.”
Having Rogan on Spotify is like having a political party with Donald Trump running for president and liberal Elizabeth Warren running for vice president. “It’s not going to work,” Gordon stated emphatically.
Spotify now has 406 million monthly active users, up roughly 20% from last year, and advertising revenue has increased mostly due to podcasts. According to Midia Research, the firm held 31% of the 524 million music streaming subscribers globally in the second quarter of 2021, more than double that of second-place Apple Music.
Rogan’s public woes began on January 24, when singer Neil Young requested that his song be taken down due to worries that Rogan was spreading misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations. Joni Mitchell and Roxane Gay were among the artists that followed suit.
Last Monday, a video compilation surfaced showing Rogan frequently uttering racial insults, heightening the pressure. India is a Grammy Award-winning performer. Arie used the hashtag #DeleteSpotify to publish it on Instagram.
Spotify previously stated that any podcasts that reference COVID-19 would soon have a warning, referring listeners to reliable, up-to-date information from scientists and public health professionals.
“They take all of this money from streaming and pay this man $100 million, but they only pay us.003% of a penny,” Arie wrote. “I don’t want to make enough money to pay for that.”
Rogan apologized on Saturday, claiming the remarks were the “most regrettable and terrible thing” he’d ever had to deal with and that he hadn’t uttered the N-word in years.
Last week, Ek admitted to being “extremely slow to respond” to the criticism over vaccination disinformation in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Young received a public response from the corporation five days later.
In a statement, Ek stated, “It’s become evident to me that we have a duty to do more to give balance and access to generally regarded information from the medical and scientific communities leading us through this unique period.”
Wihbey described Rogan’s brand as conservative “male America,” describing him as a strange blend of shock jock and host who leads conversations of public politics, arts, and culture.
His remarks were definitely racist, according to Wihbey, but he hopes Rogan will use this as an opportunity to tackle racism and vaccination concerns in more depth in future episodes. Otherwise, his audience might not be able to hear the debates, according to Wihbey.
“I believe that putting together this type of audience is critical,” he stated. “He has the ability to say things that I believe can shift the needle.”
Wingfield believes the uproar might be beneficial if it sparks a conversation about racial prejudices.
“I believe Joe Rogan might be extremely beneficial if he learns from this experience and becomes a driving voice for that discourse,” she added. “However, I want to emphasize that it is a huge if, and I have no idea if it will come to that.”