There continue to be ripple effects from Neil Young’s decision to leave Spotify over the streaming platform’s support of Joe Rogan, whose podcast frequently features COVID-19 misinformation. Young’s old bandmates David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills are the latest musicians to remove their music from the service in support, following Joni Mitchell, who pulled most of her music over the weekend, Grammy-winner Indie.Arie, Bruce Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren, and authors and Spotify podcasters Brené Brown and Roxane Gay. (Meanwhile, Young has been promoting free subscriptions to Amazon Music.)
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended his decision to stick with Rogan, who signed a $100 million deal with Spotify in May 2020, in a company town hall yesterday, explaining that Spotify’s expansion into the podcasting business was essential to differentiate itself from competitors like Apple, Amazon and Tidal, which offer a similar range of music. “To combat this, we needed to find leverage, and one way we could do this was in the form of exclusives,” he said, according to a Verge report.
Ek also argued that Spotify is a platform and not a publisher, meaning it is not responsible for the content of Rogan’s podcast. (Here he drew a distinction with podcast studios the Ringer and Gimlet, which Spotify acquired in recent years – Rogan, Elk argued, is different because the company merely licenses his podcast.) Ek added that “there are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive,” noting that Spotify has removed certain episodes of his podcast from their library in the past. Earlier in the week, Spotify announced that it would be adding “content advisory’ buttons to any podcast episode related to COVID-19, which will direct listeners to the platform’s hub of pandemic-related information.
Rogan also defended himself on Monday, posting a 10-minute video on Instagram in which he apologized to Spotify for the company “taking so much heat” as a result of the controversy. “I’m not trying to promote misinformation, I’m not trying to be controversial,”…