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Joe Rogan news: Host ‘apologises’ but defends podcast as Spotify stock plummets in Neil Young boycott

Both Joe Rogan and Spotify announced content changes in light of criticism over misinformation

Megan Sheets ,Tom Fenton
Monday 31 January 2022 20:03
Comments
‘No hard feelings’: Joe Rogan on Neil Young, Joni Mitchell boycotting Spotify

Joe Rogan has addressed claims he spread Covid-19 misinformation on his podcast amid ongoing fury over his deal with Spotify.

The host of the hugely popular podcast Joe Rogan Experience addressed backlash against himself and the streaming service in a video shared with his 14.2 million Instagram followers on Sunday night, saying “a lot of people had a distorted perception of what I do”.

It comes after musicians and celebrities including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined hundreds of scientists and medical professionals in asking Spotify to address perceived Covid misinformation on his show, with Young and Mitchell asking to remove their music from the platform in protest.

As its stock value plummeted by $2bn amid the controversy, Spotify announced it would add advisory labels to certain content - without specifically mentioning Mr Rogan.

In his latest video, Mr Rogan said he supported adding the labels and vowed to “try harder” to balance out the opinions expressed on his show.

But he also defended the controversial guests already featured on his show and suggested the term “misinformation” is being used too widely.

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Spotify stock fell by over $2 billion after Neil Young’s request

Spotify’s market capitalization fell about $2.1 billion over a three-day span last week, coming after folk-rocker Neil Young yanked his songs from the audio-streaming giant to protest against misinformation being spread on the Joe Rogan Experience.

As Variety reports, shares of Spotify fell 6% from Jan. 26-28. Over the same time period, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 1.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.1%.

Spotify stock closed last Thursday at a 19-month low of $171.32/share. That came after Mr Young said Monday that he was demanding the company drop his music, saying that Spotify “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Spotify removed Young’s songs on Jan. 26.

It remains unclear how the markets will respond to news of Joe Rogan’s recent apology to the company, as well as its decision to start putting disclaimers at the beginning of controversial podcast episodes - especially those which heavily feature Covid talk.

Last week, it was reported that many more artists were set to follow Neil Young and Joni Mitchell in requesting to have their music removed from Spotify.

Thomas Fenton31 January 2022 13:30
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Spotify to add disclaimers and advisory labels before certain content

Spotify says it will add Covid-19 content advisory labels in response to the backlash caused by the Joe Rogan misinformation controversy.

The streaming giant has come under fire from contributors such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, over a string of interviews carried out by Mr Rogan on his Spotify podcast.

Mr Young and Ms Mitchell refused to be associated with Mr Rogan and pulled their music off the platform last week.

“It is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Sunday, without mentioning Rogan by name.

“Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time.”

The Independent’s Graeme Massie reports:

Spotify adds Covid content advisory labels amid Joe Rogan controversy

Move came hours after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle expressed ‘concerns’

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 13:50
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Rogan vows to ‘balance’ podcast

Mr Rogan responded to controversy surrounding two of his podcasts about Covid-19 vaccines in an Instagram video on Sunday night, where he vowed to “balance out” opinions shared on the show.

The former television presenter started off by saying that he wanted to make the 10-minute video because he thinks “a lot of people had a distorted perception of what I do”.

Addressing claims he has spread dangerous misinformation about the virus, Mr Rogan said he was “interested in having conversations with people that have differing opinions” and was not focused on “only talking to people that have one perspective”.

He also said he supports plans by streaming giant Spotify – which hosts The Joe Rogan Experience podcast – to add content advisories to episodes that discuss Covid.

The Independent’s Peony Hirwani reports:

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 13:55
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Rogan defends controversial experts on his show

In his video on Sunday night, Mr Rogan defended the two doctors whose appearances on his podcast are at the heart of the current controversy - Dr Robert Malone and Dr Peter McCullough.

He outlined the doctors’ credentials before explaining why he invited them onto his show despite both having been accused of spreading misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines.

“Dr McCullough is a cardiologist and he is the most published physician in his field in history,” Mr Rogan said. “Dr Malone owns nine patents on the creation of the mRNA vaccine technology and is at least partially responsible for the creation of the technology that led to [creation of] mRNA vaccines.”

He continued by highlighting why he has an issue with his episodes being labelled as “dangerous” and that they spread “misinformation”.

“Especially today, many of the things we thought of misinformation just a short while ago are now accepted as fact,” he said, before giving examples of how people used to be blocked from certain social media platforms for claiming things like “Covid-19 came from a lab” — which is now on the headlines of Newsweek.

“All those theories that at one point of time were banned were openly discussed by those two men that I had on my podcast, that have been accused of ‘dangerous misinformation,’” Mr Rogan claimed.

He said that he “doesn’t know if [the doctors are] right, and claims that he’s just a “person who sits down and talks to people and have conversations with them”.

On whether he gets things wrong, Mr Rogan said: “Absolutely! But then I try to correct them.”

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 14:21
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Why did Spotify choose Joe Rogan over Neil Young?

At the heart of the controversy surrounding Mr Rogan is a two-day battle with multi-Grammy-wining rock legend Neil Young - over the course of which the podcaster didn’t say a word.

Mr Young started the scuffle when he posted a letter addressed to his manager and an executive at his record label on his website on 24 January demanding that his music catalogue be removed from Spotify in response to “fake information about vaccines”.

Specifically, Mr Young cited Mr Rogan - the host of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast who has suggested healthy, young people shouldn’t get vaccinated. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Mr Young wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Two days later, without a word from Mr Rogan, Spotify began the process of removing the famed rocker’s music, including his best-known hits such as “Heart of Gold,” “Harvest Moon” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

The speed of Spotify’s decision to sideline Mr Young was jarring. The Independent’s Travis M. Andrews explains why the company did it:

Why did Spotify choose Joe Rogan over Neil Young?

The battle lasted two days, and Joe Rogan won without making a peep

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 14:35
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle join backlash

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - who have a deal with Spotify worth a reported $30m (£18m) - called out the company for hosting “disinformation” via Mr Rogan’s podcast in a statement on Sunday.

“Since the inception of [their non-profit organisation] Archewell, we have worked to address the real-time global misinformation crisis,” the couple said.

“Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of mis- and disinformation every day.

“Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of Covid misinformation on its platform.

“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis.

“We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”

The Independent’s Jacob Stolworthy has more:

Harry and Meghan call out Spotify following Joe Rogan controversy

Couple said they hope platform makes changes ‘to help address this public health crisis’

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 14:50
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Who is Joe Rogan?

At 54 years of age, martial artist, sitcom actor, comedian, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pundit, psychedelics advocate and eat-what-you-kill moose hunter Joe Rogan finds himself the biggest podcaster in the world - and an increasingly divisive figure.

The Joe Rogan Experience, a meandering discussion show interrogating conspiracy theories and blending libertarian political chat with celebrity interviews, was named Spotify’s most-heard podcast of 2021, a little over a year after the host signed an exclusive $100m (£82m) deal with the audio streaming giant.

Now both Mr Rogan and Spotify are facing furious accusations of spreading misinformation on Covid-19 via the podcast - with a host of celebrities leading a protest to remove the show from the platform.

As the controversy drags on, The Independent’s Joe Sommerlad explains Mr Rogan’s rise to fame:

How Joe Rogan became the king of podcasting

Wildly popular but increasingly under fire for hosting vaccine sceptics, presenter cheerily admits: ‘I’m not a respected source of information even for me!’

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 15:06
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Inside Spotify’s love affair with Rogan’s misinformation

“You can say whatever you want – we’re on Spotify.”

Those were Mr Rogan’s words of reassurance to a podcast guest when she paused to joke that she would be arrested for what she said next. “Like, YouTube’s not gonna pull it,” he went on, prompting her laughter. “We’re in a weird realm.”

The remarks, made during Mr Rogan’s interview with Canadian anti-transgender writer Meghan Murphy last August, reflects a difficult truth for the world’s largest music streaming platform as it seeks to extend its dominance, and becomes a media company in its own right.

Under heavy political pressure tech giants like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have increased efforts to tackle misinformation on their platforms during the pandemic, tightening their rules and hiring third-party fact-checkers (albeit with limited success).

Audio streaming platforms like Spotify have so far escaped a similar level of scrutiny. But the Swedish-based, public company is now being forced to grapple with questions of its responsibility over misinformation and pseudoscience as it makes exclusive multimillion-dollar deals with popular podcasters.

The Independent’s Io Dodds and Louise Boyle explain:

Inside Spotify’s love affair with Joe Rogan’s misinformation

While tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have increased efforts to tackle misinformation on their platforms, Spotify has so far escaped a similar level of scrutiny

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 15:30
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Podcaster Brené Brown appears to join protest

Author and podcast host Brené Brown appears to have become the latest to put pressure on Spotify amid its Joe Rogan controversy.

Ms Brown, whose popular podcasts Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead are exclusive to the streaming platform, announced that she will not be releasing any new episodes “until further notice” in a tweet on Saturday.

She did not offer a specific reason for the move, but speculation suggests she is joining the growing protest against Spotify allowing Mr Rogan to spread Covid misinformation via his podcast, according to The Verge.

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 15:50
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Has Rogan row finally sparked revolt at Spotify?

The Ancien Régime. The House of Romanov. That MF Doom wannabe from Squid Game. To every uncaring, exploitative, top-serving system comes its moment of reckoning. And it seems Spotify has finally met its mutton-chopped Robespierre.

Last week, folk-rock titan and righteous man of plaid Neil Young insisted that his music be removed from the world’s premiere streaming platform in protest at the company’s complicity in spreading anti-vax misinformation via its reported $100m exclusivity deal with Joe Rogan’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.

In classic rock parlance, a levee broke. Eighties pop commotion Lloyd Cole, an advocate for a Spotify exodus since at least 2014, also requested his songs be scrubbed from the service. Young’s progressive contemporary Joni Mitchell downed digital tools in solidarity, wanting no partnership, however distant, with “irresponsible people … spreading lies that are costing people’s lives”. James Blunt vowed to go nuclear for the cause, too. “If @spotify doesn’t immediately remove @joerogan, I will release new music onto the platform,” he threat-tweeted, and don’t think that monster won’t do it.

Rogangate isn’t the first ethical scandal to strike Spotify, The Independent’s Mark Beaumont writes:

Has Neil Young’s Joe Rogan protest sparked an artists’ revolt against Spotify?

After a decade of musicians being expected to produce the same amount and quality of music for a tiny fraction of their pre-streaming returns, their rumblings of dissent have become a roar, writes Mark Beaumont

Megan Sheets31 January 2022 16:35

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