COLLEEN KENNY

i’m not a fan of joe rogan, but here’s why i am not leaving spotify – for now

YES joe rogan has spread lethal misinformation with his hugely popular podcast on Spotify, and … YES Spotify is a media company that is responsible for the content that it produces and distributes, and… YES artists can choose to leave platforms that violate their values, and … YES consumers can choose to leave platforms that violate their values, but … NO, I will not be leaving Spotify for the time being and here’s why …

I am a music lover. 

Nothing can come between me and my music. The music industry has, over the years, tested my love. For a while, it forced me to pay exorbitant amounts for entire records or CDs when all I wanted was one or two songs. 

I had no choice but to blow my wad at Tower Records after I got paid. It was just what I needed to do to be with my music. I did it, but it pissed me off. 

Napster changed that… then Apple changed that… and then Spotify changed that again. 

Now I can access ALL of my music in my pocket wherever I go for a convenient monthly fee without the hassle of physical formats. Consequently, I listen more, I discover more, and I share more. 

So do the members of my family. My 16-year-old daughter LOVES Spotify. My friends and favorite music sages and tastemakers love it too. Making a good playlist is equivalent to making a mixtape. It’s an act of creativity and love. 

Leaders Lead 

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell left Spotify because it gives Joe Rogan a platform. They argue that Spotify has sickness and death on its hands because it enables Rogan to spread dangerous nonsense. As leaders, Neil and Joni are taking responsibility for who they align themselves with, and that is commendable. It would be so easy to just continue on, doing nothing. 

Daniel Ek and Spotify leadership have taken the mealy-mouthed path saying they don’t want to “censor” Rogan. As Kara Swisher points out, that is corporate doublespeak. It’s not only Spotify’s privilege but also its responsibility as a media company to decide what stays and what goes on their platform … both on the talent level and the content level. 

Getting into the content business is hard, expensive, and complicated. When Spotify shelled out $100 million for Joe Rogan, it entered the content business. It is therefore responsible to manage it – that’s the job of corporate leadership. When you let things just run wild – set it and forget it – like say, Facebook has, bad things happen. Ignorance multiples, democracies fracture, people die needless deaths, and reality is devalued.

A Question of Ethical Consumerism

If I think Rogan and Spotify are in the wrong, why don’t I feel compelled to leave the platform?  

We have established that I love music, and refuse to forego it. 

So where would I go, if not for Spotify? To Apple or Amazon Music? 

If my objection is moral, can I know for sure that the alternative options are better?  Is Apple really better than Spotify, ethically speaking? They are very much in bed with the human-rights-denying Chinese government. I don’t know all of the ethics at play here. Without more complete information, it’s not always such an easy call. 

What I DO know is that all of these companies must clarify and illuminate their rationales and provide greater transparency into matters related to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance). Consumers increasingly care about corporate ethics and want visibility into how companies make money and justify their actions.

Questionable ethics aside, could Apple get us back? They had me and my husband in the early aughts. Then Spotify showed up and let us pay a flat rate and get so much more. It’s definitely possible, but Apple would have to overwhelm us with value and ease. Apple is usually pretty great at the ease part. 

As for Amazon Music … I resent the hard sell Alexa is constantly giving us when we ask for songs she doesn’t offer for free. No, Alexa, I don’t want yet another product or service from Amazon – you own so much of our life as it is. Besides, we have Audible … maybe sweeten the deal by combining the two services (surely Amazon is already working on this bundle). 

Songs About Communication Playlist 

Regardless, I would have to discuss any potential music service moves with the entire family. And until then, Spotify it is – let the music play! Note: we also subscribe to SiriusXM and most video streaming services. A new configuration of bundles could be another opportunity for us to reevaluate how we access our music. 

On the topic of Spotify lists, I am teaching a class on all things communications and need some good songs. Most of my students use Spotify, though a handful use Apple Music, and of course they all spend time on Tik Tok and YouTube. 

Please reply to this post and share your favorite songs about communication. Thank you and be well! https://open.spotify.com/playlist/27KOyWKwiaPpYCpChQcDwo?si=V8SC9tspRJuUHTii-pmD8A&nd=1  

4 thoughts on “i’m not a fan of joe rogan, but here’s why i am not leaving spotify – for now”

  1. Excellent post. I agree with what you said, and how you said it. I was torn about listening to Michael Jackson’s music and appreciating Chuck Close’s art. It was a difficult decision, but I decided to separate the creation from the creator.

    1. Colleen Kenny LaRocque

      We can still find joy and wisdom that are delivered by imperfect vessels. I do think Rogan is dangerous though, even if he doesn’t mean to be.

  2. I tend to agree. Where does the line get drawn on purity? Everything is transactional. As a consumer you either value what you get from Spotify more than you disapprove of some of its content, or you cancel. As an artist you either need the platform badly enough to overlook its choices or you pull out to send a message.
    Any and all choices are personal and subjective.

    1. Yes and these platforms are constantly evolving and the leaders are sometimes learning as they go. I’m hopeful Spotify will evolve and that more artists I love don’t leave.

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