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Music

India Arie says she’s leaving Spotify over Joe Rogan’s “language around race”

In the fallout from Neil Young’s dispute with Spotify concerning the misinformation spread by Joe Rogan’s podcast, India Arie has added herself to the growing list of artists joining Young in removing their work from the major streaming platform.

Where Neil Young and Joni Mitchell seem to be campaigning against Rogan’s spread of misinformation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, India Arie has explained that Rogan’s “language around race” is her main reason for pulling her music, despite also siding with Young on the Covid-19 argument.

“I have decided to pull my music and podcast from Spotify,” she explained. “Neil Young opened a door that I must walk through. I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his Covid interviews.”

The exact conversation about race that India Arie was referring to was not expressed, but a 2021 clip from The Joe Rogan Experience where the host discussed race with guest Jordan Petterson has received new attention this week after it was shared by Media Matters.

During the podcast episode, Rogan said: “Unless you are talking to someone who is like 100 per cent African from the darkest place where they are not wearing any clothes all day and they have developed all of that melanin to protect themselves from the sun, even the term Black is weird.”

India Arie also cited another important issue in her announcements. She mentioned Spotify’s pay rates for artists as yet another reason for leaving, adding: “What I am talking about is respect, who gets it and who doesn’t,” she said. “Paying musicians a fraction of a penny? And him $100M? This shows the type of company they are and the company that they keep. I’m tired.”

Back to Neil Young’s argument last week, the rock icon explained: “With an estimated 11million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” Young said. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.” 

He concluded: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Should we be doing more to call out the payment inequality, spread of misinformation and damaging racial discussion on our streaming platforms?