Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has told investors that it’s “too early to know” how the controversy over Joe Rogan’s podcast has impacted the streaming platform.
Last month, Neil Young demanded that his music be pulled from Spotify “immediately” over concerns that The Joe Rogan Experience was spreading misinformation about COVID on its episodes. The podcast series, hosted by comedian and MMA commentator Rogan, averages 11 million listeners per episode on Spotify in an exclusive licensing deal.
Spotify’s decision to heed Young’s wishes and add disclaimers instead of removing scientific falsehoods in the podcast has sparked a backlash by musicians including Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash, who have since requested their music be removed in solidarity with Young.
Ek told investors that the full picture of the Rogan controversy will come at a later time. He made the comments as Spotify was revealed to project slower subscriber growth for this quarter, and as shares fell by more than 10 per cent in after-hours trading [via BBC News].
“Usually when we’ve had controversies in the past, those are measured in months, not days,” Ek told investors.
“We don’t change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change based on any media cycle or calls from anyone else,” he added.
Spotify said that revenue for the last three months of 2021 rose to $2.69 billion (£2.2 billion; $3 billion), which far surpassed market expectations. Despite that, the company missed analysts’ predictions because it had forecasted that it would have 183 million paying subscribers this quarter.
The streamer added that the outlook was “subject to substantial uncertainty” due to the pandemic.
Ek added that disclaimers will be added to any podcast discussing COVID, and will direct listeners to information from experts, a resource hub and “links to trusted sources”.
“This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days,” he said. “To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”
Last month hundreds of scientists and medical professionals asked Spotify to address COVID misinformation on its platform, sparked by comments made on Rogan’s podcast.
Rogan has since addressed the fallout, saying he will “do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view”.