Spotify has started reacting and commenting on the swirling debate over comedian Joe Rogan’s podcasts on their platform. First it was musician Neil Young, then Joni Mitchell, who said they were removing their music from Spotify in protest against misinformation being spread about Covid-19 by the Joe Rogan Experience.
Now they are joined by other podcasters and musicians who complain that popular podcast Rogan is making “misleading and inaccurate claims” about vaccines and Covid-19.
Spotify responded by saying it now adds a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion of Covid-19. The notice will now direct Spotify listeners to a “Covid-19 hub” which will include links to trusted sources, according to the company. But they’ve been quiet about their podcast star and her weekly podcast.
Joe Rogan made a video on Instagram today about his thoughts on the controversy with Spotify. He says the podcast has been accused of spreading dangerous information, in particular on two episodes – one with cardiologist Dr Peter McCullough and the other with virologist Dr Robert Malone. Rogan supported both doctors’ references and said he wanted to hear opinions different from the mainstream narrative. You can see the video here.
Spotify says they will also publicly release their longstanding, so far unpublished platform rules, in the hope that they will provide clarity for all content producers on guidelines for future material.
“These are rules of conduct to guide all of our creators.”
Spotify CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek said the company takes the response from respected artists like Young and Mitchell seriously, as well as growing protest from other content providers.
But just two days after the ultimatum, Spotify began removing the 76-year-old’s classics, including his best-known hits ‘Heart of Gold’, ‘Harvest Moon’ and ‘Rockin’ in the Free World. “.
Even the popularity and respect of seasoned multiple Grammy winners like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell is no match for the size of Joe Rogan’s Spotify audience – around 10 million subscribers per episode. A week ago, Young drew a line in the sand about misleading Covid reports and guests, left unchallenged on Rogan’s schedule.
“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
In May 2020, Rogan announced that beginning in September of that year, The Joe Rogan Experience would be available on Spotify under an exclusive licensing agreement worth an estimated US$100 million. Full episode uploads to its original platform of choice, YouTube, continued until December 2020, when the program was exclusive to Spotify only. But the highlight clips and snippets are still uploaded to YouTube.
John Simson, director of the business and entertainment program at American University, says it all boils down to business and has nothing to do with art or artists.
“On the music side, Spotify pays around 70% of all revenue generated. This comes back directly in the form of royalties. They are looking for other places where the income distribution is not so dramatic. Podcasts were certainly their reference.
There have been ongoing feuds between, primarily, musicians and Spotify. Last year, rapper T-Pain shared a breakdown of how many Spotify streams it would take a musician to earn US$1, noting that on Spotify it takes 315 downloads. Apple Music requires around 128 downloads to earn the same dollar.
Meanwhile, Neil Young doubles down.
“I sincerely hope other artists and record labels leave the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly Covid misinformation.”
It remains to be seen whether other musicians or podcasters will follow. Especially artists with enough popularity or influence for Spotify to stand up and take notice.
For now, Spotify is backing its most popular podcaster while hoping its plan to release content guidelines will be enough to fix the problem.
We’ll leave the last word to Neil Young of ‘Leave The Driving’….
“And after the fact, that too has to be said: some people have taken pure bullshit and turned it into gold.