Musician Neil Young, who heated the movement to cancel podcast host Joe Rogan by removing his music from Spotify to protest what he called “the spread of misinformation,” turned on Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek after Ek refused to remove Rogan from the streaming platform. Young wrote on his website, “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.”
In late January, Young wrote a letter to his management team and record label in which he stated, “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule. … I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both. … With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
A Spotify spokesman responded, “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. … We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
After backlash from leftists mushroomed, Ek stated on January 30, “We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly. This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including COVID-19. Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time. These issues are incredibly complex.”
Today we are publishing our long-standing Platform Rules. These policies were developed by our internal team in concert with a number of outside experts and are updated regularly to reflect the changing safety landscape. These are rules of the road to guide all of our creators—from those we work with exclusively to those whose work is shared across multiple platforms. You can now find them on our newsroom, and they’ll live permanently on the main Spotify website. They are being localized into various languages to help our users understand how Spotify assesses all content on our platform.
We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19. This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources. This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.
We will also begin testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on our platform. This is in addition to the terms that creators and publishers agree to governing their use of our services.
On February 6, it was reported that Ek issued a memo to employees in which he stated:
There are no words I can say to adequately convey how deeply sorry I am for the way The Joe Rogan Experience controversy continues to impact each of you. I think it’s important you’re aware that we’ve had conversations with Joe and his team about some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language.
Following these discussions and his own reflections, he chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify. He also issued his own apology over the weekend. 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.
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