Spotify CEO reportedly confirms Joe Rogan wanted racially offensive podcast episodes removed – CNET

Spotify CEO reportedly confirms Joe Rogan wanted racially offensive podcast episodes removed – CNET

Rogan podcast fans have fewer episodes to listen to now on Spotify
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek confirmed more than 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience were removed from the streaming service, according to a report from The Verge published on Sunday. The company CEO added that Rogan was integral in the decision to shows’ removal. 

A company memo from Ek to employees said Spotify spoke with Rogan and his team regarding “racially insensitive language” content in the previous episodes. The comedian “chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify” Ek stated in the memo.  

“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 Verge. “We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but cancelling voices is a slippery slope.”

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

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

Earlier this week, Grammy-winning singer India Arie, who has pulled her catalog from Spotify, shared a compilation video of Rogan uttering a racial slur on numerous past episodes. Posted to Instagram, the musician said Rogan shouldn’t be using such slurs under any circumstance, but acknowledged clips can be taken out of context. She also posted a message saying 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, “and I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.” Rogan agreed he shouldn’t use such slurs, regardless of the context.

Read more: Spotify won’t ax Joe Rogan till Bad Bunny or The Weeknd protests too

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

Spotify has previously excluded episodes of the podcast for violating its content policies. CNET couldn’t confirm a link between the currently circulating videos and the disappearance of the episodes. Neither Spotify nor Rogan responded to requests for comment. 

In his apology video, Rogan says that he deleted one particular podcast episode over what he called an idiotic and racist remark he’d clumsily made. On Saturday, Bloomberg cited an anonymous source in reporting that Spotify took down dozens of episodes of the podcast after Rogan made the decision following a conversation with the company.

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

CEO Daniel Ek has defended the inclusion of Rogan on the company’s roster and told a company town hall that the podcast was vital to Spotify’s success. 

“If we want even a shot at achieving our bold ambitions, it will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with,” Ek said during the town hall. “Not anything goes, but there will be opinions, ideas and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad.”

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