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Tipsheet

Spotify CEO Defends Joe Rogan In Remarks to Employees

AP Photo/TT/Janerik Henriksson

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek reportedly addressed employees on Wednesday where he defended the company’s stance on working with Joe Rogan and said they do not have “editorial control” over the content on his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience.” JRE, which is available exclusively on Spotify, attracts around 11 million listeners per episode.

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Ek’s remarks to his employees came after several music artists, such as Neil Young, India Arie, and Joni Mitchell, asked Spotify to pull their discography from their platform due to Rogan’s statements about the Wuhan coronavirus and the vaccine, as Matt covered.

According to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Verge, Ek told employees that “there are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive.” There are reportedly a “number” of JRE episodes Spotify has taken down because they violate the platform’s rules, but Ek did not elaborate on which episodes were removed. However, Ek does not plan on discontinuing Rogan’s podcast on the platform.

In the meeting, Ek added that “exclusivity does not equal endorsement” and that “if we [Spotify] want even a shot at achieving our bold ambitions, it will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with."

“Not anything goes, but there will be opinions, ideas, and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad," he reportedly said.

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“A publisher has editorial control over a creator’s content – they can take action on the content before it’s even published,” Ek said to employees. “Even though JRE is an exclusive, it is licensed content, it is important to note that we do not have creative control over Joe Rogan’s content. We don’t get to approve his guests in advance, and just like any other creator, we get his content when he publishes, and then we review it, and if it violates our policies, we take the appropriate enforcement actions.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Ek said in an earnings call that “we [Spotify] don’t change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change that based on any media cycle or calls from anyone else.”

This week, as Katie covered, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said big tech companies need to “do more” to censor “misinformation” about COVID-19. The reporter who posed the question mentioned Spotify’s response to Rogan’s comments on the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“Our hope is that all major tech platforms and all major news sources for that matter be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19. That certainly includes Spotify, ” Psaki said in the press briefing.

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