Spotify CEO Daniel Ek addressed the controversy surrounding podcast host Joe Rogan on February 2, claiming that the company does not treat Rogan any differently and will penalize him if his show violates its content guidelines. Rogan has been chastised by doctors, musicians and fellow podcast hosts for spreading false information about COVID-19. In fact, musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell asked Spotify to remove their music from the platform last week. Separately, presenters of a Spotify science show questioned why Rogan was allowed to provide misleading information about vaccines.
Rogan, host of The Joe Rogan Experience on Spotify, reportedly made many incorrect and inaccurate claims about COVID-19 and vaccines. In 2020, Spotify signed Rogan to an exclusive multi-year contract for around $100 million (approximately Rs. 750 crore). With that, Spotify became the exclusive distributor of Rogan’s show, which was previously hosted on YouTube. On a conference call with investors, Ek said Rogan’s podcast was the most popular in more than 90 countries.
A Bloomberg report cited Ek saying, “While Joe has a huge audience – he’s the #1 podcast in over 90 markets – he also has to abide by these policies. We do not change our policies based on a creator.”
Ek, however, admitted that he couldn’t predict how this entire episode would affect subscriptions. He said it was too early to predict what the impact would be and added that in the past, whenever there was a controversy, the company averaged it in months, not days.
A few days ago, Rogan responded to the controversy via an Instagram video and said he was not trying to promote disinformation. He added that even though he sometimes got things wrong, he always tried to make things right.
Spotify is home to over 3.6 million podcasts, many of which reflect divisive viewpoints on a wide variety of topics.