Spotify just lost two more artists over Joe Rogan controversy

Joe Rogan and India Aire in Spotify dispute
(Image credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan/Michael S. Schwartz/Getty/Shutterstock)

Spotify’s problems extend beyond the departure of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Two more artists have announced that they'll be pulling their music from the popular streaming service in the wake of ongoing controversy surrounding Joe Rogan's podcast The Joe Rogan Experience and how it’s handling information surrounding Covid-19.

Graham Nash and India Arie both announced that they’re pulling their music off Spotify, citing the company's inaction regarding Covid-19 misinformation and racial content shared on The Joe Rogan Experience. Young and Mitchell already removed their music last week over objections about discredited Covid-19 claims aired during the podcast. Nils Lofgren has done likewise.

While the primary backlash surrounding Rogan has been centered on questionable comments regarding COVID-19 vaccines, Arie has pointed out on Instagram that her primary reason for removing her music from Spotify is his recent statements about race. "I believe in freedom of speech," said the R&B singer-songwriter. "However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his Covid interviews. For me, it’s also his language around race."

Arie is referring to a conversation between Rogan and controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson last month during an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience. "There’s such a spectrum of shades of people," Rogan said. "Unless you’re talking to someone who is, like, 100% African, from the darkest place, where they are not wearing any clothes all day and they’ve developed all that melanin to protect themselves from the sun. You know, even the term Black is weird. When you use it for people who are literally my color, it becomes very strange."

In her statement, Aerie noted the disparity Spotify pays artists in royalties versus what the company shelled out to make Rogan's podcast a Spotify exclusive. "What I am talking about is respect — who gets it and who doesn’t," Arie's statement continued. "Paying musicians a fraction of a penny? And him $100 [million]? This shows the type of company they are and the company that they keep. I’m tired."

In the wake of the controversy, Rogan published a 10-minute video on his Instagram wherein he stated, "I’m not trying to promote misinformation. I’m not trying to be controversial. I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than just talk to people and have interesting conversations.” Rogan added that he feels it's important that he "makes sure that I’ve researched these topics – the controversial ones in particular – and have all the pertinent facts at hand before I discuss them."

Despite this apparent attempts to de-escalate the situation, it's clear that some artists don’t feel Rogan’s statement was sufficient and would rather pull their music from Spotify unless the company removes The Joe Rogan Experience from its service. So far, however, the only hint of change comes from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, who said in a statement this week that the company has "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,” Ek added. “We’ve heard you – especially those from the medical and scientific communities." 

As it stands, it seems unlikely that Spotify will take any serious action against Rogan's podcast, which could leave the door open for more artists to potentially leave the platform in the coming weeks.

Next, see why one of our staff writers decided to ditch Spotify. Hint: it's not because of this controversy. 

Billy Givens

Billy Givens is a journalist with nearly two decades of experience in editing and writing across a wide variety of topics. He focuses particularly on games coverage for Tom's Guide and other sites including From Gamers Magazine, Retroware, Game Rant and TechRaptor. He's also written for self-improvement sites such as Lifehack and produced in-depth analyses on subjects such as health, psychology and entertainment.

  • swojcik
    You all realize, it’s not the individual artists who are making a stand. It’s the people who own their music library and also have investments with the pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer who have a problem with this.