Joe Rogan has addressed the furore about his Spotify-exclusive podcast The Joe Rogan Experience this week, both on-stage and during an episode of the podcast itself.
Young sparked the exodus late last month, when he requested his music be taken off Spotify, citing the platform “spreading false information about vaccines” and specifically targeting Rogan.
It came after hundreds of scientists and medical professionals asked Spotify to address COVID misinformation on its platform, sparked by comments made on Rogan’s podcast – calling the host’s actions “not only objectionable and offensive but also medically and culturally dangerous”.
In response, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said that, while the platform wouldn’t be severing ties with the controversial figure, they would be adding content advisories to podcast episodes which discussed COVID-19, directing users to their dedicated information hub.
Rogan himself addressed the boycott on Instagram, telling fans: “I don’t always get it right. I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view.”
Shortly after, Rogan found himself embroiled in controversy again when songwriter India.Arie shared a video that compiled instances the podcast host had used the N-word on his podcast. Spotify responded by removing some 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience.
In the aftermath, Ek sent a letter to company staff saying that while he “strongly condemns” Rogan’s use of racial slurs, removing his podcast entirely was “not the answer”. Rogan himself apologised in a video on his Instagram account, calling the incident “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly”.
However, the podcast host also went on to tell his followers there had “been a lot of shit from the old episodes of the podcast that I wish I hadn’t said” and that the compilation video consisted of clips “taken out of context of twelve years of conversations on my podcast”.
This week, Rogan has addressed the criticism again. His first addressal came on Monday’s (February 7) episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, where he described the backlash against his use of the racial slur as “a political hitjob” while speaking to his guest, comedian Akaash Singh.
Detractors, he said, were “taking all the stuff I’ve ever said that’s wrong and smushing it all together”, adding that it forced him to “address some stuff that I really wish wasn’t out there”.
The following evening, Rogan returned to the stage for a stand-up set in Austin, Texas. During that set, he discussed the video, saying that even he deemed the clips “racist as fuck” while watching it.
“Even to me! I’m me and I’m watching it saying, ‘Stop saying it!’ Rogan told the crowd. “I put my cursor over the video and I’m like, ‘Four more minutes?!'”
“I haven’t used that word in years,” he continued. “But it’s kind of weird people will get really mad if you use that word and tweet about it on a phone that’s made by slaves.”
Elsewhere in the set, Rogan seemed to defend his role in the controversy around vaccine misinformation on his podcast, saying he “talk[s] shit for a living”.
“If you’re taking vaccine advice from me, is that really my fault?” he asked. “What dumb shit were you about to do when my stupid idea sounded better? ‘You know that dude who made people eat animal dicks on TV? How does he feel about medicine?’ If you want my advice, don’t take my advice.”
Earlier this week, Young weighed in on Spotify again in an open letter on his website. “In our communication age, misinformation is the problem,” he wrote. “Ditch the misinformers. Find a good clean place to support with your monthly checks. You have the real power. Use it.
“To the musicians and creators in the world, I say this: You must be able to find a better place than Spotify to be the home of your art. To the workers at Spotify, I say Daniel Ek is your big problem – not Joe Rogan. Ek pulls the strings. Get out of that place before it eats up your soul. The only goals stated by Ek are about numbers – not art, not creativity.”