Spotify Can Have Joe Rogan, Or They Can Have Subscribers, But They Can’t Have Both

I admit that this sounds like what Neil Young said right before he pulled his music from Spotify. But I believe that with the revelations over the weekend of Joe Rogan being overtly racist on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, I think Spotify is reaching a point where they are having a rubicon moment. Because having a guy who spreads COVID mis-information is bad enough. But add racism to the mix and I believe that Spotify is in a whole world of hurt as that’s another rallying point for those on the #DeleteSpotify side of the fence.

And I think that Spotify knows this because Newsweek is reporting that Daniel Ek has addressed the racism charges via an internal memo to staff:

In a letter sent to staff, Ek addressed Rogan’s use of racial slurs and derogatory comments about Black people and confirmed the removal of certain episodes.

“Not only are some of Joe Rogan’s comments incredibly hurtful—I want to make clear that they do not represent the values of this company,” Ek wrote in the memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

“I know this situation leaves many of you feeling drained, frustrated and unheard.”

Ek goes on to say that the company has spoken with Rogan about “some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language.”

Following these chats “and his own reflections,” Ek said that Rogan “chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify.”

Despite “strongly condemning” Rogan’s comments, Ek said he does “not believe that silencing Joe is the answer” and that “canceling voices is a slippery slope.”

So if that’s going on inside his company, you have to imagine what’s going on outside. While Twitter isn’t the gold standard of exactly figuring out what public sentiment is, it does give one a sense of what people think. Here’s a few examples that I found:

That last Tweet is telling because the narrative is starting to become that Spotify supports what Joe Rogan does. Even if that includes racism. If you’re in Spotify’s PR department, that’s got to send shivers down your spine. And again, I think that Spotify knows this. Here’s why I say that via the same Newsweek article that I linked to above:

Ek then pledged $100 million—the same reported figure paid for the exclusive Rogan deal—to licensing, developing, and marketing music and other audio content by creators from historically marginalized groups.

It seems to me that this is an attempt by Ek to distance the company from Rogan. But I am not sure that will be enough. With these latest racism charges, it’s way too late for that if you’re Spotify to distance yourself. And I think you now need to make a choice if you’re Spotify. Do you choose your subscribers, or do you choose Joe Rogan? Because as their troubles with the former mount, it’s becoming clear that Spotify cannot have both and they need to make a choice.

Choose Wisely Spotify.

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