Spotify pledges $100m to marketing diverse talent after latest Joe Rogan controversy

Spotify chief Daniel Eck has announced that the company will invest $100 million in discovering and marketing more diverse vocal talent after footage surfaced of controversial podcaster Joe Rogan using racial slurs.

It exacerbates an issue that has surfaced over the past few weeks, in which Spotify has attempted to wash its hands of responsibility for content on its platform by claiming that it is not a publisher, despite its exclusive distribution of The Joe Rogan Experience.

In the statement to employees, Eck said, “If we believe in having an open platform as a core corporate value, then we also have to believe in uplifting all types of creators, including those from underrepresented communities and a variety of backgrounds. We have already done as much as There is a lot of work to do in this area but I think we can do more.

“I am therefore committed to an additional investment of $100 million to license, develop and commercialize music (artists and songwriters) and audio content from historically marginalized groups. This will greatly increase our efforts in these areas. While some may wish to follow a different path, I believe that more Talking about more issues can be very effective in improving the status quo and boosting the conversation completely.”

At the time of writing, 113 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast are not available on Spotify. Latest set of removals – 71 episodes were deleted on Friday, February 4th – directly related to racist slurs.

The Rogan controversy erupted in light of the vaccine misinformation that broadcast officials had included in previous episodes. In September of 2020, a group of employees sought to advance the issue by limiting the extent to which Rogan could book controversial guests and spread misinformation.

Musicians including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and India Ari – who reappeared in episodes with racial slurs – have since asked Spotify to stop hosting their back-end catalogs. At the time, The Drum asked agencies if advertisers should pull spending from the platform as well, even though the The vast majority argued that advertisers should not “monitor” the Internet.

In muddying the waters, Eck still argues that Spotify is not Rogan’s publisher and is therefore exempt from liability for his remarks: “While I strongly condemn what Joe said and agree with his decision to remove previous episodes from our platform, I realize that some will want more. And I want to make one point clear. “I don’t think silencing Joe is the answer. We must have clear lines around the content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling votes is a slippery slope. Looking at the issue more broadly, it is critical thinking and open discussion that drives real and necessary progress.”

“Another criticism I keep hearing from many of you is that it’s not just about Joe Rogan’s experience on Spotify; it’s about our direct relationship with him. At Town Hall last week, I made it clear to you that we’re not a JRE publisher. But the perception created by our exclusive license means otherwise.” So I’ve been grappling with how that perception aligns with our values.”

It is unclear to what extent racist slurs are used “It gives real and necessary progress,” and the length of time the controversy has gone on has been argued to indicate the long-term damage to the Spotify brand. The $100 million allocated to a variety of marginalized voices on the platform is equal to or slightly less than the amount Spotify paid for Joe Rogan’s experience alone in 2020.

It is also an implicit acknowledgment of the priority of the creators and the value of exclusive content in the audio space. Spotify has spent hundreds of millions to get The sole distribution rights to podcasts from Rogan, Michelle Obama, Heaviwitt, and more. The validity of this strategy can be inferred from the fact that as of September last year, Joe Rogan alone was responsible for 4.5% of all podcast listening on the platform.

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