Spotify's popular US podcaster Joe Rogan apologised on Saturday after a video compilation surfaced that shows him using a racial slur in clips of episodes over a 12-year span.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, Rogan, who hosts the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, said his use of the slur 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.”
Rogan’s mea culpa follows Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter India Arie's announcement on Thursday that she was removing her music from the Spotify streaming service because of the racial slur that Rogan had made during his podcasts. She posted the video montage of Rogan's clips on her Instagram account. Rogan, who launched his podcast in late 2009, didn't specify which years he used the racial slur.
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 said.
Rogan's message on Saturday addressed a video a clip from his podcast 11 years ago in which he talked about going to a cinema in a black neighbourhood 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 realised it was “an idiotic thing" to say. He said he deleted the podcast but that someone must have saved the clip.
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 musician Neil Young, who called out the streaming service’s top podcaster for magnifying vaccine scepticism.
Last Sunday, Spotify said it will soon add a warning to 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 its rules to protect users’ safety.
Spotify garnered 31 per cent 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.
Celebrities for and against Joe Rogan – in pictures: