Spotify CEO Apologizes to Staff Over Joe Rogan N-Word Controversy

Spotify's Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ek has apologized to employees amid the controversy surrounding The Joe Rogan Experience, a podcast which in recent weeks has faced widespread condemnation for Covid-19 vaccine misinformation and Rogan's use of the N-word. In a letter sent to Spotify employees and obtained by Deadline, Ek, who wrote that he was "deeply sorry," said that while he found the comments "incredibly hurtful," Spotify would not be "silencing" Rogan.

Ek began the memo by telling staff that "there are no words I can say to adequately convey how deeply sorry" he is for the way in which the controversy has impacted employees. Ek called Rogan's comments "incredibly hurtful" and said that he wanted to "make clear that they do not represent the values of this company." He went on to acknowledge that "this situation leaves many of you feeling drained, frustrated and unheard," before sharing that he believes "it's important you're aware" that Spotify has had "conversations with Joe and his team about some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language." Ek noted that following those discussions, Rogan chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify. He also issued his own apology over the weekend." However, Ek confirmed that there were no plans to drop Rogan from the platform.

"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. And I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer," Ek continued. "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."


Ek went on to share that he would be committing "an incremental investment of $100 million for the licensing, development, and marketing of music (artists and songwriters) and audio content from historically marginalized groups." He explained that he believes "that more speech on more issues can be highly effective in improving the status quo and enhancing the conversation altogether." He also shared that he has been considering "what additional steps we can take to further balance creator expression with user safety" and has "asked our teams to expand the number of outside experts we consult with on these efforts." Ek concluded the note by sharing that Spotify has "a clear opportunity to learn and grow together from this challenge and I am ready to meet it head on."