This article was last edited 1/31/22 to include an update regarding Rogan’s response.
Joe Rogan is no stranger to controversy. And his relationship with Spotify has been the epicenter of much of this drama.
When Rogan first signed his impressive $100,000,000+ deal with the streaming service, news outlets reported that “employees were demanding direct editorial oversight – the ability to directly edit or remove sections of upcoming interviews, or block the uploading of episodes deemed problematic. The employees also demanded the ability to add trigger warnings, corrections, and references to fact-checked articles on topics discussed by Rogan in the course of his multi-hour discussions.”
Through it all, Spotify has continued to give Rogan full creative control of his show – staying largely silent regarding outcry surrounding the JRE platform.
Neil Young boycott’s the Spotify platform (January 24, 2022)
Last week, controversy swirled up again as musician Neil Young gave an ultimatum to Spotify.
Rolling Stone shares a portion of Young’s fiery letter in their recent article. – “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform… They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” the letter reads. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Spotify pulls Neil Young’s music catalog + other artists follow suit (January 26, 2022)
Spotify acquiesced to Young – removing his music from the platform, as artists like Peter Frampton and Joni Mitchell stood in solidarity with the singer.
This decision did make a significant blow to Spotify’s market value – which dropped more than $2 billion in the last few days – obviously getting the attention of CEO Daniel Ek.
Ek is placed in a rather difficult position. Does he bow to boycott and break contract on a $100m deal with Joe Rogan? Does he double down in defense of Rogan and risk further artists leaving the platform?
Many on every side of this issue have waited for the company to make a move this past week – and sure enough, on January 30, Spotify made their move.
Spotify issues a statement (January 30, 2022)
On January 30, 2022, Daniel Ek issued a statement with new platform rules.
While Rogan is not explicitly named, it’s clear that much – if not all – of this statement is written in reference to this controversy.
“A decade ago, we created Spotify to enable the work of creators around the world to be heard and enjoyed by listeners around the world. To our very core, we believe that listening is everything. Pick almost any issue and you will find people and opinions on either side of it. Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly. We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users. In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
He then lists three action steps that Spotify will be taking in relation to this area:
“Today we are publishing our long-standing Platform Rules. These policies were developed by our internal team in concert with a number of outside experts and are updated regularly to reflect the changing safety landscape. These are rules of the road to guide all of our creators—from those we work with exclusively to those whose work is shared across multiple platforms. You can now find them on our newsroom, and they’ll live permanently on the main Spotify website. They are being localized into various languages to help our users understand how Spotify assesses all content on our platform.”
“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19. This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources. This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”
“We will also begin testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on our platform. This is in addition to the terms that creators and publishers agree to governing their use of our services.”
Joe Rogan Issues Statement/Apology (January 31, 2022)According to Reuters, “Joe Rogan apologized and pledged more balance on his show amid a backlash against COVID-19 misinformation on the streaming service that wiped more than $2 billion off its market value last week.
On Monday, investors appeared to shrug off the controversy that hurt shares last week, as Spotify’s stock price jumped 10%after brokerage Citigroup raised the stock rating to “buy” from “neutral” saying the Swedish company would be able to improve its advertising business.”
In his 10 minute video posted to Instagram on January 31, Rogan said, “If I pissed you off, I’m sorry, I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view.”