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Spotify's CEO apologizes for Rogan controversy but says he will not 'silence' podcast host

Joe Rogan
Posted at 8:30 AM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 08:30:30-05

In a late-night memo to employees, Spotify's CEO apologized for the company's ongoing controversy with podcast host Joe Rogan but said the company remained committed to hosting the show.

Daniel Ek's memo came days after Rogan apologized for his repeated use of racial slurs in past episodes of his show, "The Joe Rogan Experience."

"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," Ek said in a memo Monday night.

However, Ek went on to say that Spotify would continue to carry Rogan's podcast, despite calls for Spotify to de-platform the host.

"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 in the note. "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," he added.

About 70 past episodes of "The Joe Rogan Experience" were deleted from Spotify last week, episodes in which Rogan used racial slurs or made racist statements. In his note to employees, Ek said it was Rogan's decision to delete the episodes, not Spotify's.

Rogan himself apologized for his past racist statements in a six-minute video posted to Instagram on Saturday. He said his use of slurs was "regretful" and "shameful."

"I know that to most people there's no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast and I agree with that now. I haven't said it in years," Rogan said. "It's not my word to use, I'm well aware of that now."

Rogan's use of racial slurs is just the latest controversy surrounding the podcast. Last month, several musical artists, led by Neil Young, chose to remove their catalogs from Spotify over Rogan's amplification of COVID-19 misinformation. While the handful of artists who chose to leave Spotify was far from crippling for the streaming giant, it has shed more attention on one of the company's highest-paid and most controversial media moguls.

In 2020, Spotify reportedly paid Rogan $100 million to license his podcast. While The Verge reports that the growth of Rogan's audience has slowed since it went behind Spotify's paywall, the podcast is still highly influential and reaches millions of people each episode.