Spotify is damaging its reputation as it stands by Joe Rogan
Recently, there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Spotify and a popular podcaster, Joe Rogan. Rogan’s public troubles began in late January when musicians like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Roxane Gay asked to have their music removed from Spotify because of concerns that Rogan promoted skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccines on his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
The backlash intensified in February when clips of him using the N-word over two dozen times on his podcast came to surface. Although Spotify CEO Daniel Elk has said that he “strongly” condemns Rogan’s use of the N-word, he has decided to keep the podcaster on the platform. From a PR standpoint, and even a moral one, this was not the right decision.
First, our country has already struggled enough with this pandemic. It is extremely harmful for somebody with as big of a platform as Rogan to be getting on his wildly popular podcast and telling people they don’t need to get vaccinated. Spotify continuing to give him this platform to speak on is only contributing to the problem, which is why they are receiving just as much criticism as Rogan.
A consumer poll conducted by Forrester Research found that approximately 19% of Spotify users said they have canceled or plan to cancel their service as a result of the controversy. The best Spotify did in response to this was add a content advisory to any episode containing COVID-19 information. They also removed 113 past episodes of the show. This is simply not enough. Spotify should have taken more severe actions against Rogan after these incidents.
Rogan’s racial slur debacle was just the icing on the very ignorant cake for a lot of people. Yes, Spotify has condemned his use of racial slurs, but has still decided to stand by him and leave his podcast up. Actions speak louder than words.
What good does it do to say “what he did was wrong” but not do anything about it when you have the power to? By continuing to give Rogan a voice on their platform, Spotify is giving the message that you can repeatedly use racial slurs on their platform and not receive any real consequences. They are damaging their reputation as a company by allowing Rogan’s harmfulness to continue.
Spotify paid $100 million in order to exclusively stream Rogan’s podcast, so this could be a factor as to why they don’t want to let him go, along with him being a consistent #1 ranked podcast on the platform. However, to me, the solution is simple. As a successful company, throwing away your entire reputation over one, very problematic podcast is not worth it. Also, why would you want to support a podcast like that anyway? Either way, Spotify needs to remove Joe Rogan from Spotify.
By Raquel Tadlock
Raquel is a third-year student at San Diego State University studying Journalism – Public Relations with a minor in International Studies. She is originally from Clovis in central California, but now resides in San Diego full time. She plans to graduate in Spring 2023 and pursue a career in Public Relations post-graduation.