Spotify Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ek on February 2 addressed the controversy surrounding podcast presenter Joe Rogan, claiming that the company does not treat Rogan differently and will penalise him if his show violates their content guidelines. Rogan has been chastised by doctors, musicians, and fellow podcast hosts for spreading false information regarding COVID-19. In fact, musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell urged Spotify to remove their songs from the platform last week. Separately, hosts of a Spotify science programme questioned why Rogan was permitted to provide misleading information about vaccines.
Rogan, host of The Joe Rogan Experience on Spotify, has reportedly made many incorrect and inaccurate assertions about COVID-19 and vaccines. In 2020, Spotify had signed Rogan for an exclusive multi-year contract for around $100 million (roughly Rs. 750 crore). With that, Spotify became an exclusive distributor of Rogan’s show, which was previously hosted on YouTube. On a conference call with investors, Ek said that Rogan’s podcast was the most popular in more than 90 countries.
A Bloomberg report quoted Ek as saying, “While Joe has a massive audience — he’s the No. 1 podcast in more than 90 markets — he also has to abide by those policies. We don’t change our policies based on one creator.”
Ek, however, admitted that he couldn’t forecast 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 has been a controversy, the company has measured it in months, not days.
A few days ago, Rogan responded to the controversy through an Instagram video, and said that he was not trying to promote misinformation. He added that though at times he got things wrong, he’s always tried to correct them.
Spotify is home to over 3.6 million podcasts, many of which reflect divisive viewpoints on a wide array to topics.