Spotify under intense pressure
NEW YORK -- Joe Rogan issued an apology on Instagram Saturday after a compilation of the podcaster frequently using the N-word on his podcast spread widely on social media, CNN reported.
Rogan used the word more than 20 times in the clips from different podcast episodes, which he said were compiled over a span of 12 years. In his apology, Rogan said it's the "most regretful and shameful thing" he has ever had to address publicly.
"I know that to most people, there's no context where a White person is ever allowed to say that, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that," he said. "Now, I haven't said it in years," Rogan added.
Rogan also addressed a video of him comparing a Black neighborhood to a Planet of the Apes movie. "I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism," he said.
Now Spotify, one of the biggest streaming services in the world, is under intense pressure because it is the exclusive distributor of Rogan's popular show.
A Spotify representative declined to comment on whether it will take any action against Rogan.
But a person familiar with the matter told CNN Business that the company has been having conversations with Rogan's team about concerns with some of his past episodes.
On Friday, it appeared that Spotify had removed more than 70 episodes of Joe Rogan's podcast, according to the tracking site jremissing.com.
In fact, Rogan decided to remove certain past episodes in concert with his apology, the source said.
Singer-songwriter India Arie is among a number of musical artists who recently asked that their music be removed from Spotify after Covid-19 misinformation was aired on Rogan's show, and posted the compilation of Rogan using the N-word on her Instagram account. The Grammy-award winner said that while she empathizes with artists who asked for their content to be taken off due to Covid-19 misinformation, her protest is also about his language around race.
Rogan "shouldn't even be uttering the word," Arie said. "Don't even say it, under any context. Don't say it. That's where I stand. I have always stood there."
Arie used the #DeleteSpotify hashtag to her almost 1 million followers on Instagram.
"They take this money that's built from streaming, and they pay this guy $100 million, but they pay us like .003% of a penny," Arie said on Instagram. "Just take me off. I don't want to generate money that pays that."
According to a 2021 report from The New York Times, music industry estimates place Spotify's payout rate to musical artists at a half-cent per stream, a rate that is often divided among record companies and artists.
Neil Young was the first recording artist to ask that his music be removed from the platform on January 25. He was joined by Joni Mitchell shortly after and a growing list of musicians and personalities followed them to call out Spotify or to leave the channel entirely. Spotify exclusively hosts the popular podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience," on which Covid-19 vaccine misinformation has been spread.
Spotify responded to criticism, saying it is adding a content advisory to any podcast episode -- not just Rogan's -- that includes discussion about Covid-19, a move Rogan has said he agrees with.
"It's become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time," CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek sad in a statement earlier this week.
Rogan claims that he previously used the N-word as part of a context -- such as when he discussed a Richard Pryor album or the repeated use of the word in Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film "Pulp Fiction."
"For a long time, when I would bring that word up, like if it would come up in conversation," Rogan said. "Instead of saying the N-word, I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing."
He added, "there's nothing I can do to take that back... I do hope that if anything, that this can be a teachable moment, because I never thought it would ever be taken out of context and put in a video like that."
Rogan said in his apology he's "not racist."
"Whenever you're in a situation where you have to say, I'm not racist, you [expletive up], and I clearly have [expletive ] up," Rogan said.
Rogan addressed a video of him comparing a Black neighborhood in Philadelphia to a "Planet of the Apes" movie in a deleted podcast, claiming he was trying to say they were in Africa because "there's a lot of Black people there." "Planet of the Apes" did not take place in Africa, which Rogan acknowledged.
"I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism," Rogan said.
Last week, Rogan brought up the subject of race in an episode of his podcast with guest Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist and climate change skeptic. After a brief discussion of the "spectrum of shades of people," Rogan said it was strange to call someone Black or white based on their skin tone.
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