The multi-million dollar Spotify deal with Joe Rogan is reportedly proving to be a source of conflict between Spotify’s workforce and its leadership.
As Vice report, on Wednesday, September 16th, Spotify hosted a town hall meeting that saw employees raise concerns over content in the Joe Rogan archive. Specifically taking umbrage with commends Rogan made deemed transphobic.
“Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership’s response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?” one employee raised.
The concerns relate to an episode uploaded earlier this year, that saw Rogan interview author Abigail Shrier, author of the largely-baseless, widely-criticised Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. During her appearance on the podcast, Shrier associates transness with autism, and both Shrier and Rogan discuss their theory that YouTube and social media are influencing young people to transition.
In an episode released last week, Rogan found him in hot water after suggesting that Caitlyn Jenner’s transition was a result of living with “crazy bitches” in the Kardashian household.
“In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said. “And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he’s said in the past.”
“Others have concerns specifically over a recent episode,” Ek continued. “And Joe Rogan and the episode in question have been reviewed extensively. The fact that we aren’t changing our position doesn’t mean we aren’t listening. It just means we made a different judgment call.”
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When The Joe Rogan Experience initially hit Spotify at the beginning of September, a bunch of controversial episodes were notably missing. Including conversations with Alex Jones — Jones’ own podcast was removed from Spotify for “hate content”— Gavin McInnes, Chuck Johnson and Milo Yiannopoulos.
As it stands, Joe Rogan will maintain complete creative control over JRE under the exclusive Spotify agreement.
As Spotify orbits towards the podcasting realm, it is faced with pressure to moderate its hosted content in a way typically associated with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. How the platform will approach its relationship with its audience and employees is unclear.
“At Spotify, we are strongly committed to the LGBTQ+ community and diversity in all of its forms,” a Spotify spokesperson told Vice in a statement.
“All employees are respected and we believe that everyone has a right to be heard. We have a number of forums for open and transparent discussion and we encourage rigorous debate on topics across the company.
“All content on Spotify is subject to our long-standing content guidelines. Our diverse team of experts reviewed the content in question and determined that it did not meet the criteria for removal from our platform.”