Joe Rogan's multimillion dollar mega-deal with Spotify was made with the understanding that the streamer wouldn't have creative say over his show, The Joe Rogan Experience. Thanks to Rogan's fearless attitude toward controversial subjects, however, Spotify employees aren't too happy with that.
Vice recently reported on an all-hands meeting at Spotify held in early September which saw company CEO Daniel Ek defending Rogan's presence on their platform in response to staff members who said some of his content left them feeling “alienated.”
"In the case of Joe Rogan, a total of 10 meetings have been held with various groups and individuals to hear their respective concerns," Ek said, according to three sources. "And some of them want Rogan removed because of things he's said in the past."
Three sources provided Motherboard with some of the questions submitted to the town hall meeting. Motherboard granted them anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak to the press about internal Spotify issues. Two of the questions submitted for the Q&A section of the meeting highlight some of the Spotify employee's concerns around Joe Rogan's content.
Vice quoted one of the questions, which was perhaps characteristic of many others: "Many LGBTQAI+/ally Spotifiers feel unwelcome and alienated because of leadership's response in JRE conversations. What is your message to those employees?"
While Spotify has indeed removed Joe Rogan Experience episodes featuring far-right fringe personalities like Alex Jones and Gavin McInnes, there are still episodes on the platform that members of the LGBTQ community object to, particularly one featuring the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Abigail Shrier.
Shrier contends young trans people are under pressure from online media and adult trans activists, and Rogan appeared to essentially agree—something he often seems to do in part to keep the interview cordial.
Spotify gave a statement to Vice saying they "are strongly committed to the LGBTQ+ community and diversity in all of its forms" and that all Spotify "employees are respected and we believe that everyone has a right to be heard."
The streamer's statement also said that "all content on Spotify is subject to our long-standing content guidelines. Our diverse team of experts reviewed [the Shrier episode] and determined that it did not meet the criteria for removal from our platform."
Joe Rogan has yet to issue any statement regarding the controversy.