I’ve never listened to Joe Rogan in my life and I certainly don’t intend to.
However, I do listen to The Drongos, obscure New Zealand new wave rockers from the early 1980s who released a couple of sparkling albums and disappeared. When I first made aliyah, my friend Elliot in Tel Aviv had them on a homemade cassette and I listened to it incessantly for a while. The cassette eventually disintegrated and subsequent visits to used record stores never yielded anything by them.
Almost 40 years later, I subscribed to streaming service Spotify, and among the long-hidden treasures I found were those albums by The Drongos. That’s not the only aspect of Spotify that I found irresistible. The playlists they create based on my tastes are uncannily spot on, and I’ve discovered or rediscovered artists from Drive By Truckers to Guided By Voices who are now essential elements of my listening pleasure.
The current Spotify controversy is troubling. I respect Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren for removing their music due to Rogan’s presence. However, what is my responsibility as a Spotify subscriber?
I go into YouTube to view clips, watch concerts and shows, while that forum makes available some of the vilest forms of antisemitism, misogyny and hate speech. I choose not to view them, the same way I choose not to listen to Rogan.
The more pertinent issue, in my eyes, is the supposedly paltry royalties Spotify pays to the artists whose music is streamed, compared to the $100 million Rogan allegedly received to spout his and his guests ignorant and damaging opinions. Artists like Young and Mitchell certainly don’t need the extra income, but there are thousands of artists, struggling due to the pandemic-induced drought of live shows, who certainly do.
I’ve felt guilty about that since first plucking down my NIS 19.90 a month, but try to assuage that guilt by sharing worthy music with friends and occasionally writing about them to give them more exposure.
Life is full of compromises. I’ll continue using Spotify and I’ll continue to ignore Joe Rogan.
And I’ll continue scratching my head and wondering when did listening to The Drongos become so political?