It all started back in late December when a small community of medical professionals, scientists, and professors posted an open letter to Spotify in response to their exclusive podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which they said had been promoting baseless conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID. The coalition called for Spotify to “establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform” to restrict potentially harmful content about the pandemic.
In the following weeks, folk-rock pioneer Neil Young amplified their message when he issued a public ultimatum, demanding for Spotify to either drop the “The Joe Rogan Experience,” or say goodbye to his music discography. A couple days later, Spotify removed his music from the platform. This prompted other notable musicians including Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and India.Arie (who left due to Rogan’s “language around race”) to follow Young’s lead. Bestselling author Brené Brown also announced that her Spotify-exclusive podcasts “Unlocking Us” and “Dare to Lead” would be paused in the wake of the Rogan-Spotify firestorm. Other podcast hosts including acclaimed essayist and author Roxane Gay, and former President Donald Trumps’ niece, Mary Trump, said they were pulling their shows from the platform as well.
The Joe Rogan-Spotify furor has only intensified in recent days after a video montage of Rogan repeatedly using the N-word on previous podcast episodes resurfaced and went viral. In response, Spotify yanked 113 episodes of Rogan’s podcast from the platform, according to website JRE Missing. Rogan responded to the video, apologizing for his use of the racial slur, calling them “regretful and shameful.” But Spotify’s removal of “The Joe Rogan Experience” episodes have sparked fiery debates on social media from Rogan supporters who argue that the comedian-host is being censored.
Now, there’s a chance that Rogan could leave his $100 Spotify deal for another company, Rumble, which has offered him $100 million (over four years) to host his complete, uncensored catalog of episodes there instead.
The Rogan-Spotify drama doesn’t appear to be settling any time soon, so here are the six latest developments you should know about:
Rumble Offers Joe Rogan $100 Million to Leave Spotify
The right-wing video-sharing platform, which partnered with former President Donald Trump on his new social media app, offered Rogan $100 million over (four years)—the same amount of his Spotify deal that he signed in 2020—to leave the audio streaming service.
“We stand with you, your guests and your legion of fans in desire for real conversation. … How about you bring all your shows to Rumble, both new and old, with no censorship, for $100 million bucks over four years?” Rumble’s CEO, Chris Pavlovski, wrote in a tweet Monday morning. “This is our chance to save the world. And yes, this is totally legit.”
Rogan doesn’t appear to have responded to the generous offer on social media yet, but it shows that the embattled Spotify host has options.
Spotify CEO Addresses Joe Rogan’s N-Word Use, Says “Silencing” Him Is Not the Answer
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told employees Sunday that he “strongly” condemns Rogan’s past use of the N-word and other derogatory remarks toward Black people, but he won’t cut ties with the platform’s most popular podcaster.
“While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more,” Ek said in a letter. “And I want to make one point very clear – 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. Looking at the issue more broadly, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress.”
Spotify Makes $100 Million Commitment to Historically Marginalized Groups
In that same letter, Ek also pledged a commitment to uplifting historically marginalized 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,” Ek wrote.
“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. This will dramatically increase our efforts in these areas. 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.”
Andrew Yang Apologizes for Rogan Tweet, “The Rock” Apologizes for Support of Rogan
After the video compilation of Rogan repeatedly using a racial slur went viral, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang defended Rogan on social media. In a tweet that has since been deleted, Yang said, “I don’t think Joe Rogan is a racist — the man interacts with and works with black people literally all of the time.”
Yang, who appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” in February, also tweeted: “Do I know black friends of Joe’s who would swear by him? Yes I do.”
Backlash came quickly and Yang—who also ran for mayor of New York City— backtracked his tweet saying, “I like to believe the best of people – especially if I’ve met and spent time with that person. Sometimes it makes me miss something. I think we should have the capacity to forgive people – whether a podcaster or a mayor – if they mess up. Maybe it’s because I mess up too.”
He added that “racism is real, deep, corrosive and even lethal,” admitting, “I made a mistake in an earlier tweet tonight that downplayed these realities.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson issued an apology over his initial support of Rogan, saying he wasn’t aware of Rogan’s use of racial slurs, The Hill reports.
“Thank you so much for this,” Johnson replied to a tweet from author Don Winslow.
“I hear you as well as everyone here 100% I was not aware of his N-word use prior to my comments, but now I’ve become educated to his complete narrative. Learning moment for me.”
Spotify Regains Shares After Establishing Content Advisory for Podcasts and Rogan Pledges to Showcase Balanced Perspectives
After unveiling plans to add a new labeling system for COVID-related content following criticism over a misinformation policy, Spotify’s shares rose roughly 13 percent Monday in New York, marking their best intraday gain since December 2020, according to Bloomberg. The increase occurs just a week after the streaming giant lost 12 percent of shares—wiping out roughly $4 billion from the company’s market value.
The uptick also arrives after Rogan addressed the controversy, saying that he would do a better job of balancing different perspectives.
“I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives, so we can maybe find a better point of view,” Rogan said in a nine-minute video statement released on Spotify and on his Instagram page. “I want to show all kinds of opinions so that we can all figure out what’s going on and not just about COVID, but everything about health, fitness, wellness, the state of the world itself.”
Roughly 19 Percent of Spotify Users Say They’ve Canceled or Plan to Cancel Subscription, New Poll Finds
About 19 percent of Spotify users have canceled their service — or plan to — in the wake of the Rogan-Spotify turmoil, according to a Feb. 1 consumer poll conducted by Forrester Research, Variety reports.
The poll also revealed that 54 percent of those who use Spotify have no intention of canceling their subscription, while 18.5 percent said they would consider canceling only if more artists pulled their music from the service. Additionally, about 8.5 percent of users said they thought about canceling their subscription but that Spotify’s features were too important to them.
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