Daniel Ek, the founder and CEO of streaming giant Spotify, released an internal statement to employees apologizing for the ongoing backlash against podcaster Joe Rogan and his use of the N-word on past episodes of his show.
In a statement published in full Sunday on Axios, Ek wrote, “There are no words I can say to adequately convey how deeply sorry I am for the way The Joe Rogan Experience controversy continues to impact each of you. I think it’s important you’re aware that we’ve had conversations with Joe and his team about some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language.”
Ek, whose official title is Spotify Technology SA Chief Executive, continued in reference to Rogan: “Following these discussions and his own reflections, he chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify. He also issued his own apology over the weekend.”
“While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more,” said Ek. “And I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”
In another part of the statement, Ek issued a pledge, writing: “If we believe in having an open platform as a core value of the company, then we must also believe in elevating all types of creators, including those from underrepresented communities and a diversity of backgrounds. We’ve been doing a great deal of work in this area already but I think we can do even more. So I am 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. This will dramatically increase our efforts in these areas. 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.”
Clips of Rogan saying the N-word on his podcast dozens of times resurfaced after singer India.Arie announced that she was leaving the platform following progressive artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. While these folk singers pointed to Rogan’s COVID-19 disinformation as the reason for their exits, Aire said her departure was due to Rogan’s rampant racism, sparking a mass exodus of users from the platform and ongoing social media debates.
Ek contended in his missive that he and staff at the streaming giant “have a clear opportunity to learn and grow together from this challenge,” claiming that he is ready to “meet it head on.”
Attorney and media personality Adrienne Lawrence was one of many who responded to the Ek statement on social media, writing, in part, “All this lying and pulling episodes is a weird—way to celebrate Black History Month but do you @Spotify.”
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted: “Once you see the CEO, it all makes sense. And nice touch mentioning how ‘hurtful’ it was for Rogan to say the N-Word so many times that a mixtape could be made. Tell us again how hurtful it was to YOU #DanielEk? I bet it’s a bit more hurtful to us. But that money’s good, huh?”
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