India Arie is the latest musician to announce plans to remove their catalog from Spotify in support of Neil Young, who took the first step in doing so after the streaming service failed to properly address streamer Joe Rogan’s spread of Covid-19 misinformation on his podcast. But for Arie, the conversation goes beyond viruses and vaccines — it’s also about race.
Last month, Rolling Stone reported that a group of 270 doctors, healthcare workers, educators, and scientists was campaigning for Spotify to publicly adopt a misinformation policy; the missive inspired Young to remove his music from the service. Young, in turn, inspired Arie. “Neil Young opened a door that I must walk through,” she wrote on Instagram. “I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his Covid interviews. For me, it’s also his language around race.”
Last week, Rogan was joined on his podcast by so-called philosopher Jordan Peterson. The two white men went on to host a lengthy discussion about what it means to be Black, an identity they say they can understand because, Rogan, at least, is Italian.
Getting to the root of the issue, Arie continued: “What I am talking about is respect — who gets it and who doesn’t. Paying musicians a fraction of a penny? And him $100 [million]? This shows the type of company they are and the company that they keep. I’m tired.”
Spotify recently announced its plans to add content advisory warnings to podcasts featuring Covid discussions. “There are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly… [But] it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a post on Spotify’s for the Record blog.
The authors of the initial letter were not satisfied with their efforts, however. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist who co-authored and signed the letter, told Rolling Stone labeling something Covid-19 content, “whether it’s Joe Rogan or the CDC… further creates a ‘false balance’ problem. … It’s designed to look like they’re doing something, but they’re not doing anything. It’s more spectacle than substance.”
Captioning her Instagram post, Arie shared a sentiment echoed by users in her comment section: “I wonder who else is tired.”