Earlier this year, Spotify announced an exclusive deal with Joe Rogan, one of the world’s most popular podcast hosts, to carry his show The Joe Rogan Experience. Eager to build up its audio entertainment library, Spotify reportedly paid Rogan $100 million to produce his show for the platform, with a promise that he would not have to change any part of his controversial brand.
But it seems that some members of the Spotify team are already frustrated with Rogan for what they view as problematic content. In fact, this week, Digital Music News reported that several Spotify employees have demanded “direct editorial oversight” of Rogan’s podcast, and have even threatened to strike if their concerns are not met. These Spotify employees have also requested the right to add trigger warnings, corrections, and fact checks to the often freewheeling program.
Rogan has already made some concessions during the transition process of his show to Spotify. As his years-long catalog of episodes moved to the streaming platform, Spotify intentionally omitted certain episodes. Among them, interviews with Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, and Alex Jones, all figures notorious for humoring conspiracy theories and indulging hate speech.
Furthermore, Rogan recently made a rare public apology and correction following a contentious episode. During conversation with guest Douglas Murray, Rogan claimed that left-wing anarchists had ignited the wildfires currently engulfing the state of Oregon. Digital Music News suggests that the host only apologized after uproar among Spotify employees.
Still, despite Rogan’s retraction, the episode remains on the platform, unedited. It seems that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wants to let Rogan be Rogan, for now. After all, the entire appeal of the podcast is that all guests are welcome, and no topic is considered taboo. Ek does not want to water-down or destroy what makes the show so popular.
Such an attitude was on display following an interview with Abigail Shrier, an author who questions whether young girls should be allowed to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Some castigated her comments as transphobic, and called on Spotify to remove the episode, but the platform’s leadership refused. It now appears that Ek will maintain a hardline against any kind of intervention, despite his staff’s concerns.