Op-Ed: We Need to Boycott Spotify, Now


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

From exploiting artists to silently supporting Joe Rogan, Spotify, a music streaming platform, has some issues that should make you think if you should use it or not. 

Joe Rogan is a “stand-up comic” who hosts a Spotify-exclusive podcast called The Joe Rogan Experience. He is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and in the past, he has voted for mainly Democrats, but he is not affiliated with either party and votes for “who he thinks is the best candidate.” He claims that he has been liberal his whole life, even though he spreads misinformation about COVID-19 and has repeatedly said the n-word. 

When a video compilation of Rogan using the n-word was spread across social media, he apologized, claiming he is “not racist” and had acted “inappropriately.”

Rogan then went on to say that the clips online of him saying the slur were “taken out of context.” However, if you are white and say the n-word, the context does not matter—it is still a racial slur you should not say.

Rogan acknowledged this, saying that “whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say ‘I’m not racist,’ you f**ked up, and I clearly have f**ked up.

If you are in a situation where you have to apologize for saying a racial slur that you cannot reclaim, you may have said something racist. 

In a later apology video, Rogan said that he knows now that the context does not matter when a white person uses the n-word.

Instead of saying ‘the n-word,’ I would just say the word,” Rogan said. “I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist”—but still, using the word as a white person is racist.

Rogan also said that he was trying to be “entertaining” and “would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.”

On one of Rogan’s podcast episodes, he tells his friends about the time he saw Planet of the Apes.

“We walked into Planet of the Apes. We walked into Africa, dude. We walked in the door, and there was no white people… Planet of the Apes didn’t take place in Africa. That was a racist thing for me to say,” Rogan said.

Rogan said that he never actually said that Black people are apes, and that is “just what it sounded like.” If that is not what he said, what was he trying to say?

Joe Rogan’s racism is just the tip of the iceberg. He has spread misinformation about COVID-19. He has made misogynistic, fatphobic, homophobic, transphobic, and anti-vaccine statements in the past.

In a later “apology” video, however, Rogan said that what he said was not racist.

On comedian Trevor Noah’s show, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Noah said that a white person never needs to use the n-word—and he is right. According to Noah, unless you are in a movie where the script has the word, there is no excuse.

For example, I’ve gone this entire story saying ‘the N-word,’ and everyone has understood exactly what I’ve meant,” Noah said. “But you knew offending Black people would get a laugh out of those white friends that you’re with.”

Noah is a comedian, so he understands when “dark humor” is and isn’t appropriate.

“Just because something is a joke doesn’t mean it can’t be something else, as well. Because a joke can be racist… But the laughs don’t mean that there’s no racism,” Noah said.

The CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, condemned Rogan for using slurs, but he imposed no actual consequences on him on the music streaming platform. Ek said he found what Rogan said “incredibly hurtful,” but he did not believe “silencing” him would be the answer.

Rogan was paid $100 million for the podcast to be on Spotify, according to the Huffington Post, where artists are paid .003 percent of a penny. Ek said he would use $100 million to amplify the voices of people who have been scrutinized in Rogan’s podcast, which is a good thing to do, but it is clear that he is doing it because he does not want to take Rogan off of the platform. 

To quote Noah, “I mean, whipping out your checkbook is the classic sign that you know you f**ked up.”

Spotify’s actions are not true accountability. They are how people get out of things that were their fault.

Spotify knows that Joe Rogan makes them money, so they do not want to get rid of him, so they maintain a facade where they think Rogan is a bad person and should have consequences. 

Joe Rogan’s racism is just the tip of the iceberg. He has spread misinformation about COVID-19. He has made misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and anti-vaccine statements in the past.

Many artists like Neil Young have taken their work off of Spotify, likely because they silently endorse Joe Rogan. Additionally, Young acknowledges that Spotify exploits its artists. The corporation pays artists next to nothing for streams. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many musicians have been having a hard time. Many artists have not been able to go on tour or have in-person concerts. They have lost the income they depend on to live, and although concerts and tours are starting again, they are not the same as before.

To get $1,000 on Spotify, an artist needs to have their song streamed 303,030 times, as one stream gets an artist $0.0033. Compared to other music platforms, this pays almost nothing. On Apple Music, an artist needs 100,000 streams to get $1,000. To get $1,000 on Tidal, they need their song streamed 76,924 times on average. There are music platforms that pay less per stream than Spotify—but they also have Joe Rogan. 

For those looking to change their music streaming platform, Apple Music has several different plans; a $4.99/month student membership, a $9.99/month individual plan, and a family plan for $14.99/month. Tidal is $19.99/month for HiFi Plus. For regular HiFi, it is $9.99/month, and there is also a free option. Amazon Music has a free plan; Unlimited is $8.99/month or $9/year, and if you have Amazon Prime, you do not get unlimited, but you do get perks.

Consider switching your streaming platform today—Joe Rogan doesn’t need any more corporations or listeners backing his image.