On Friday (February 4), R&B artist India.Arie went on the Tamron Hall show and talked about her reasons for leaving Spotify.
Videos by American Songwriter
India.Arie did not leave Spotify—pulling her music and podcast, which had over a million followers—simply because of medical misinformation. She pulled her content because, as she said, the music industry is racist and dangerous. That is symbolized by Rogan, in many ways, she says.
The artist also recently shared a video of podcaster Joe Rogan, whose popular show is hosted exclusively by Spotify and has been the focus of criticism for misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccination mandates, using the N-word repeatedly.
And to prove that, the video India.Arie shared shows Rogan saying the “N-Word” many, many times—without retribution to date. The video collection of Rogan using the heinous word repeatedly can be seen below or HERE.
Not long after posting the video, Rolling Stone reports that more than 70 of Rogan’s episodes were “quietly” pulled from Spotify. (One wonders what his supporters have to say about that and India.Arie’s video.)
In the wake of an onslaught of criticism from artists like India.Arie, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and others, a clip of Rogan talking about vaccines just before the 2020 shutdown has resurfaced online, showing that he’s dramatically changed his stance since COVID ravaged the globe.
In the clip below from the 2020 episode, Rogan says, “I hope this wakes people up to the value of vaccines. There are so many wackos out there that think vaccines are, you know, a scam.”
Rogan also recently released a video where he apologizes for the usage of the N-word over his many episodes, though many on Twitter, including rapper Sol, are not happy about the apology. The Seattle-based emcee, wrote, “What a SHITTY apology. Talkin’ about a “teachable moment” when he clearly hasn’t learned anything other than what to avoid and not what to understand…”
In a new survey, reported by Variety, nearly 20% of Spotify users have cancelled their subscriptions, or plan to, “over the Rogan uproar.”
Variety reported: “The survey also found that 54% of those who use Spotify have no intention of canceling their subscription, while 18.5% said they would consider canceling only if more artists who they like pull their music from the platform. About 8.5% said they thought about canceling their subscription but that Spotify’s features were too important to them.”
Still, others, like podcaster and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, say that Young and those following him are going too far and that “engagement” is paramount.
While it’s clear that the controversy is far from over, it’s important to realize that this is a multi-faceted issue and that race and global health are at the center.
India.Arie on her decision to pull her podcast and music from Spotify:
“Yes, I decided to pull my music and my podcast from Spotify but it’s dual. One is the Joe Rogan conversation and for me his language around race and some of the things I’ve seen and heard, but also coupled with that, there is the treatment of artists by Spotify. And so artists are underpaid and Joe Rogan gets paid all this money and it’s hard for me to, these days, just sit back and go, ‘Oh, well, that’s how it goes.’ I made a commitment with myself, after reading this book by Martha Beck called The Way of Integrity – she challenges the reader to an integrity cleanse and it means telling the whole truth all the time and see what it will make of your life. And so I’ve been doing that since maybe around May, and so when this came up, I had to do it. And I’m a little bit nervous about it because I know people are gonna conflate the conversations and some people are gonna judge me and they’re gonna say it’s not my business and you know all these things because it is a little bit of a different reason than Joni [Mitchell] and Neil [Young] but also, it’s my truth. And it’s not always my job to educate people about how I feel, although I try. I know that my truth is mine. And so I am working to have it [her music and podcast] pulled down.”
India.Arie on what Spotify can do to address her concerns:
“You know, I said in my statement that I believe in freedom of speech, and I do. I mean, as much as I think some of the things I’ve heard him [Rogan] say in these videos is disgusting, he can say it. What would make me comfortable is if there were voices of integrity and high consciousness amplified as loud as his. I’m not being technical, because I don’t know this world very well. But in our communities, the music communities, we all have a great reverence for say, Questlove, who has a wonderful big podcast, but does he get paid $100 million? Those kinds of things, like the equity, even in the podcast world, I’d love to see. But also what would make me comfortable is for artists to get paid more than a fraction of a penny. And so now we’re all amplified and not just him [Rogan].”
India.Arie on her hope that fellow artists will consider leaving Spotify as well:
“My hope is that some of my artist friends would follow and come along with me. Because one of the hashtags I put on my posts was #WhatIfWeAllLeave. Because if you take the power from them, the power’s taken. And also streaming doesn’t pay artists a lot. No platform pays as much as the artist is actually worth. But if you ask the artists it’s worth more than gold. But that’s how we feel about our art, but some of the other streaming platforms pay better. And so if we all leave Spotify or enough of us leave, they’ll either change it, or people who want to hear you will stream you somewhere else where you can get paid better. So this is all wishful thinking though because the truth is, I did it because it’s true for me and it’s what brought me peace. Because I can’t not tell the truth is the pact I’ve made with myself.”
India.Arie on how Stevie Wonder helped her through a tough night of losing at the Grammys:
“I remember getting in bed after the Grammys because Stevie Wonder, who is one of my heroes and mentors, wanted to go to dinner and I just could not function. I was like, ‘I’m going back to the hotel.’ He was mad – well not mad, he was like, annoyed that I couldn’t just put [it behind me], ‘let’s just go’ you know, but also that night he cried, too. I went to his dressing room and I was just sitting there with him and I just saw a tear roll from under his glasses because he cried for how much I hurt. Like it hurt. And then I went back to my hotel room and I just kind of like got ready to pull the cover over my head and he called and I was having like this little chest pain – I haven’t had chest pain since – but I had like this little chest pain, but he called and said, you know, he said, ‘You are so lovely and this business is so not.’ It took me years to, first of all, understand that by losing that big, it made it a story where I was seen. But I’m still in that space of like wanting to clear it up and wanting to not have it stuck in my throat because you know, my publicist and the people who love me said ‘well, you know, don’t say anything because then you might not win next year,’ but then next year comes and you don’t win anyway so what matters? And so it did affect my mental health but it also just grew me up.”
Photo: Courtesy of Wasserman Music