Swedish audio streaming platform Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, under fire from critics inside and outside the company over its partnership with podcaster Joe Rogan, said in a memo to employees that it was “deeply sorry” for how the controversy over the podcast host has affected them.
But after the company’s removal of 70 past episodes of ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ amid Rogan’s use of the N-word and racially charged language numerous times on his show, the CEO signaled that Spotify does not plan to terminate its deal to distribute the podcast, reports variety.com.
“I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer canceling voices is a slippery slope,” he wrote in the memo on Sunday, which was obtained by Variety.
Ek said he is “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”.
Spotify’s exclusive multiyear deal with Rogan is reportedly worth more than $100 million.
“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,” the CEO wrote.
According to Ek, Spotify has had conversations “with Joe and his team about some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language”.
“Following these discussions and his own reflections, he chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify. He also issued his own apology over the weekend.”
Rogan has been a controversial figure ever since Spotify inked its exclusive deal with him in 2020, given his friendliness with several right-wing personalities he has hosted on ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’.
The latest controversy over Covid misinformation on Rogan’s podcast has gone beyond the low-level boil that previously accompanied outrage over his show.
The current boycott was started by Neil Young, who two weeks ago demanded Spotify pull his songs or drop Rogan’s podcast. Young has been followed by a few other artists and creators.