Spotify CEO Daniel EK Resists Demands To Can Joe Rogan
Spotify CEO Rejects Mob Demands To Can Rogan, Says “Cancelling Voices Is A Slippery Slope”
Just when Spotify bulls were breathing a sigh of relief following this morning’s apology from CEO Daniel EK (who sought to soothe over SJW anger by pledging to “incrementally” invest $100MM in artists from underrepresented backgrounds in response to the controversy over Joe Rogan), it looks like one of the country’s biggest pension fund managers has decided to get involved.
Reuters reports that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has asked the streaming platform for a report on the effectiveness of its new content guidelines, which it unveiled late last week as the controversy over the ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ was snowballing.
The letter also cited complaints that the show had “spread COVID misinformation” while also being both “racist” and “antisemetic”. Spotify announced a week ago that it would affix a content advisory to any Rogan episodes where COVID information is discussed, while also laying out content guidelines (including a ban on material that promotes ‘criminality’ – although isn’t that what 99% of hip hop, the most popular genre of music streamed on the platform, is all about?).
As the top official overseeing NY State’s pension, DiNapoli has control over funds that own Spotify shares, which puts a lot of pressure on management to respond since an announcement that NY pension funds are dumping Spotify shares would likely vaporize billions of dollars in market value.
DiNapoli has a history of successfully pushing for more oversight on content at certain social media companies. Funds he oversees own $41 million in Spotify shares.
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has apologized to the company’s employees in an internal memo where he said he “strongly” opposes Joe Rogan’s use of the ‘n-word’, but that “silencing Joe isn’t the answer.”
Daniel Ek added in the memo to staff obtained by the Hollywood Reporter that “cancelling voices is a slippery slope”, and clarified that Joe Rogan himself had decided to delete the 70+ episodes removed from the streaming service on Friday due to the use of ‘the n-word’ or other offensive content. Many of the other episodes removed from Rogan’s massive catalogue were taken down not long after Rogan signed his deal with Spotify.
The decision to keep Rogan’s show on the platform was made to “elevate all types of creators”, Ek claimed (although, as we and others have explained, the show is a major moneymaker for the service, commanding a minimum ad buy of $1M with other sign-on perks including requiring advertisers to also buy ads on other Spotify podcasts.
“I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer,” Ek wrote.
“We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope.”
To try and paper over the anger from some Spotify customers, Ek said Spotify would be 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” to boost creators from underrepresented backgrounds.
“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,” Ek said.
Rogan issued an apology of his own on Saturday – his second such apology video in the span of a week – when he frankly told his audience that the compilation video of him saying the ‘n-word’ looked “f**king horrible”, even to him. He apologized unreservedly and said that he had changed his view on use of the ‘n-word’ and hadn’t uttered it at all “in years”.
Of course, while Ek acknowledged that some employees might not be happy with the company’s decision, he hoped they could all move forward together. Of course, letting go of Rogan would likely mean that Spotify would have to let go of more than a few members of its staff as well.