Spotify CEO Shares Letter to Employees Addressing Joe Rogan’s Use of N-Word

In the lengthy letter, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek argued that "canceling voices is a slippery slope" amid ongoing controversies over podcast host Joe Rogan.

The CEO of Spotify is shown wearing a blazer

Image via Getty/Monica Schipper/Spotify

The CEO of Spotify is shown wearing a blazer

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a letter to company employees over the weekend that he doesn’t believe that “silencing Joe is the answer” amid ongoing controversies surrounding podcast host Joe Rogan.

In the letter, per the Hollywood Reporter, Ek—whose net worth is estimated byForbes to be just over $3 billion—mentioned Rogan’s use of what he called “some racially insensitive language,” as well as the recent removal of a number of podcast episodes from the platform.

“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,” Ek said. “And I want to make one point very clear—I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope. Looking at the issue more broadly, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress.”

As readers will recall, Rogan shared a statement to Instagram on Saturday in response to the circulation of a supercut video of him saying the N-word in previous podcast episodes. “For a long time when I would bring that word up, like, if it would come up in conversation, instead of saying ‘the N-word,’ I would just say the word,” Rogan said. “I thought as long as it was in context people would understand what I was doing.” 

Later in his statement, Rogan added “It’s not my word to use. I’m well aware of that now.”

Ek’s letter, which also sees the CEO mentioning an “incremental investment of $100 million” toward licensing and marketing for marginalized groups, is the latest development in a pushback against Spotify that previously saw Neil Young and other artists pulling work from the platform over the spread of pandemic misinformation on Rogan’s show.

As the Rogan-focused controversies have persisted, criticism has also continued to mount against the platform over royalty rates. To put that issue into perspective, consider that Rogan’s initial deal with Spotify was reported by the Wall Street Journal to be worth more than $100 million, while the current average Spotify streaming royalty payout (as pointed out by the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers) is just $.0038.

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