Monday, May 16, 2022

Spotify To Make $100 Million Investment After Joe Rogan Backlash

In the wake of Joe Rogan answering and apologizing for past race-related remarks that went viral over the weekend, Spotify has decided to take action.

The action is not removing Rogan from their platform as Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Neil Young and Joni Mitchell requested, nor is it the implementation of a misinformation policy as over 200 authors of an open letter to Spotify demanded.

Instead, the company is investing $100 million, the same amount of money spent to hold the exclusive license for The Joe Rogan Experience, into “historically marginalized groups.”

This decision comes after Grammy-award-winning artist India Arie revealed that she had a private conversation with Spotify about the discrepancy between what Rogan is being paid while there are clips of him stating racially controversial remarks compared to what music artists and podcasters of colors are paid.

It is this perceived gap in pay and equity that prompted Arie to join Young and Mitchell in requesting her music be pulled from the platform.

India Arie performance in Carmel postponed because of illness
India Arie, Credit: Getty Images

Over the weekend, two videos went viral, both of which Rogan has apologized for. The first video contained a compilation of Rogan saying “ni**er” without any full sentences or context included in the video. The second video had Rogan stating that it felt as though he and his friends were in “Planet of the Apes” when they unexpectedly arrived in an all-black neighborhood.

There was also a third video that has mostly flown under the radar, where Rogan implies that white people’s brains are superior to black people’s brains. The latter two videos were both very dated and over a decade old.

Following the snowstorm of criticism that came down on Rogan, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek released a memo to company employees. Here are the notes of what Ek wrote in the memo.

  • Expressed empathy for the Spotify team being stuck in the middle of Rogan’s controversies and stated that none of Rogan’s comments represent the values of the company.
  • Had conversations with Rogan and his team about past JRE episodes containing racially insensitive comments, with Rogan choosing to remove those episodes.
  • Stated that “silencing” Joe Rogan is not the answer
  • Clarified that Spotify is not the publisher of JRE but merely holds the exclusive license for the podcast.
  • $100 million investment into marginalized communities to broaden, not stifle, public discourse.

The remainder of the memo is used as a direct address to employees with the intention of boosting staff morale in the midst of the ongoing controversies and negative press.

You can read the full memo here.

What are your thoughts on how Spotify has handled the recent Joe Rogan controversies?

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