Roxane Gay has joined Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and other artists and podcasters in removing their content from Spotify, revealing Thursday that the author has pulled all episodes of The Roxane Gay Agenda podcast from the streaming service over their handling of “misinformation.”
On Feb. 1, Gay tweeted, “It won’t move any sort of needle but I removed my podcast from Spotify. That’s all there really is to say about that. Onward.” In a follow-up op-ed for the New York Times, Gay explained the decision and criticized Spotify for giving its reported 400 million users “unfettered access” to the controversial Joe Rogan Experience, which boasts an audience of 11 million people. “Clearly, something about [Rogan’s] feigned curiosity and ignorance, and his embrace of conspiracy theorists and quacks resonates with a lot of people. That, too, is disturbing,” Gay wrote.
“Spotify does not exist in a vacuum, and the decisions it makes about what content it hosts have consequences,” Gay added. “Misinformation has contributed to tens of millions of people believing the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. It contributed to the Jan. 6 insurrection. And misinformation has helped prolong the Covid-19 pandemic and encouraged people to do dangerous things such as injecting bleach or taking Ivermectin, a horse deworming paste.”
Gay also questioned Spotify’s and Rogan’s “conciliatory gestures” in the aftermath of the outcry against the streaming service, including Spotify’s plan to add “content advisory” warnings on Covid-19 discussions as well as Rogan’s own apology.
While The Roxane Gay Agenda wasn’t exclusive to Spotify, the author acknowledged that leaving the streaming service “was a difficult decision — there are a lot of listeners on the platform, and I may never recoup that audience elsewhere.”
Like Neil Young, who said leaving Spotify wasn’t an attempt to stifle Rogan’s freedom of speech, Gay said the decision to leave Spotify is not about censorship.
“I am not trying to impede anyone’s freedom to speak. Joe Rogan and others like him can continue to proudly encourage misinformation and bigotry to vast audiences,” Gay added. “They will be well rewarded for their efforts. The platforms sharing these rewards can continue to look the other way. But today at least, I won’t.”