NEW YORK – Spotify’s popular U.S. podcaster Joe Rogan apologized Saturday after a video compilation surfaced that showed him using a racial slur in clips of episodes over a 12-year span.
The mea culpa came after Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter India.Arie posted the compilation on Instagram and announced that she was removing her music from Spotify’s streaming service because of it.
Spotify is facing growing discontent from artists over Rogan’s podcast, which it reportedly paid more than $100 million to license. Last month, musician Neil Young removed his music over concerns that Rogan was magnifying vaccine skepticism.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, Rogan, who hosts a podcast called “The Joe Rogan Experience,” said his use of the N-word in the compilation Arie posted was the “most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” But he said the clips were “taken out of context.”
“It’s not my word to use. I am well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner,” he said during the six-minute video on his Instagram account. “I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist.”
He did not specify which years he used the racial slur.
Rogan also addressed a clip from his podcast 11 years ago in which he talked about going to a movie theater in a Black neighborhood to see “Planet of the Apes”.
“I was trying to make the story entertaining, and I said we got out and it was like we were in Africa. It’s like we were in ‘Planet of the Apes,’” Rogan said. He said he wasn’t trying to be racist but realized it was “an idiotic thing” to say. He said he deleted the podcast but that someone must have saved the clip.
In her video, Arie said even if some of Rogan’s conversations were taken out of context, “he shouldn’t be uttering the word.”
“Don’t even say it under any context,” she added.
Rogan’s apology comes as Spotify is promising to combat the spread of COVID-19 misinformation as part of a damage-control campaign sparked by Young.
Last Sunday, Spotify said it will soon add a warning before all podcasts that discuss COVID-19, directing listeners to factual, up-to-date information from scientists and public health experts. The company also aims to bolster transparency about its publishing decisions by laying out the rules it uses to protect users’ safety.
Spotify garnered 31% of the 524 million worldwide music stream subscriptions in the second quarter of 2021, more than double that of second-place Apple Music, according to Midia Research. Spotify isn’t always popular with musicians, many of whom complain that it doesn’t pay them enough for their work.
Arie said on her video that Spotify is built on the back of the music streaming business and that it uses that money to reward Rogan in a lucrative deal. She said she doesn’t want to generate money that pays for the podcaster.
“Just take me off,” she said.
Spotify didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.
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