Spotify CEO Reportedly Confirmed Joe Rogan Wants Racist Podcast Episodes Removed

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has confirmed that more than 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience have been removed from the streaming service, according to a report by The edge published on Sunday. The company’s CEO added that Rogan was integral to the decision to scrap the shows.

A memo from Ek to employees said Spotify had spoken with Rogan and his team regarding content “in racially insensitive language” in previous episodes. The comedian “chosen to remove a number of episodes from Spotify,” Ek said in the memo.

“Not only are some of Joe Rogan’s comments incredibly hurtful — I want to clarify that they do not represent the values ​​of this company,” Ek wrote in the memo obtained by The Verge. “We should have clear lines around content and take action when they’re crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope.”

Ek went on to say in the memo that Spotify would dedicate $100 million for more music and audio content from creators of marginalized bands. It was the same amount Spotify paid Rogan in 2020 for the exclusive rights to his show.

Rogan issued an apology on Saturday after Spotify appeared to remove 71 podcast episodes, after videos of the comedian using racial slurs spread on social media. The events come amid a protest led by musicians against the streaming service for allowing Rogan’s podcast to spread misinformation about COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Grammy-winning singer India Arie, who pulled her catalog from Spotify, share a compilation video of Rogan uttering a racial slur on many past episodes. Posted on Instagram, the musician said Rogan should never use such slurs, but acknowledged clips can be taken out of context. She also posted a message saying that Rogan was problematic because of “his language around race“, as well as COVID material.

The podcast host took to Instagram early Saturday to apologize. “I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist,” Rogan said. noted, “and I would certainly never offend anyone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.” Rogan agreed that he shouldn’t use such slurs, regardless of the context.

Read more: Spotify won’t remove Joe Rogan until Bad Bunny or The Weeknd protest either

The apology came shortly after a fan-made website discovered that episodes of the podcast were no longer available on Spotify. The website, JREMissinguses Spotify’s API to compare available episodes against a database of all recorded episodes.

Spotify previously removed episodes from the podcast for violating sound content policies. CNET could not confirm a link between the videos currently in circulation and the disappearance of the episodes. Neither Spotify nor Rogan responded to requests for comment.

In his apology video, Rogan says he deleted a particular podcast episode over what he called a silly and racist remark he awkwardly made. On Saturday, Bloomberg quoted an unnamed source in reports that Spotify removed dozens of episodes from the podcast after Rogan made the decision following a conversation with the company.

This new round of controversy comes amid lingering concern that the Rogan podcast serves as a platform for COVID misinformation. Rocker Neil Young and folk icon Joni Mitchell removed their music from Spotify after a open letter signed by more than 250 health professionals, researchers and professors pointed to the podcast as evidence that the streaming service was promoting misinformation.

CEO Daniel Ek defended Rogan’s inclusion on the company’s list and told a company town hall that the podcast was essential to Spotify’s success.

“If we even want a chance to achieve our audacious ambitions, that will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with,” Ek said during the town hall. “Nothing is right, but there will be opinions, ideas and beliefs that we don’t agree with and that will even make us angry or sad.”

Margie D. Carlisle