Spotify CEO claims streaming giant does not supervise Joe Rogan as they are a ‘platform’ not ‘publisher’

String of musicians have left the streaming giant in protest at

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 03 February 2022 14:22 GMT
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‘No hard feelings’: Joe Rogan on Neil Young, Joni Mitchell boycotting Spotify

Spotify’s CEO told his staff that the streaming giant does not closely monitor under fire podcast host Joe Rogan as it sees itself as a distribution platform not his publisher, says a report.

Daniel Ek explained the company’s position during a live-streamed town hall amid widespread criticism of Rogan’s alleged Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“Spotify doesn’t approve Rogan’s guest list, they don’t look at his content until it goes up, and so they don’t have editing power,” one Spotify employee who listened in on the town hall said they were told.

“They just look at it after it’s already on the platform and remove it if it doesn’t meet guidelines.”

During the event, Mr Ek and chief content and advertising business officer Dawn Ostroff “repeatedly used the phrase ‘if we were a publisher,’ very strongly implying we are not a publisher, so we don’t have editorial responsibility”, a second employee told the newspaper.

Rogan’s podcast The Joe Rogan Experience was bought by Spotify for around $100m, but unlike many others on the service it is not actually produced by the company.

(AFP via Getty Images)

The town hall came as Crosby, Stills and Nash have become the latest act to demand that their music is removed from Spotify in protest at Joe Rogan’s alleged Covid-19 and vaccination misinformation.

The disbanded supergroup, who were known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young when Neil Young was a member, showed solidarity for him in his row with the streaming giant.

The high-profile departures were led by Young and Joni Mitchell, who have were then joined by Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist Nils Lofgren, Graham Nash and Indie Arie.

Young started the trend by saying he would no longer be affiliated with Spotify, which has an exclusive podcast deal with Rogan.

“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 Mr Ek on Sunday, without mentioning Rogan by name.

Joe Rogan introduces fighters during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Joe Rogan introduces fighters during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)

Last month 270 scientists and doctors wrote an open letter urging Spotify to take action “against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform.”

Rogan took to Instagram on Sunday to apologise to Spotify.

“I want to thank Spotify for being so supportive during this time and I’m very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much heat from it,” he said.

And he added: “I’m not trying to promote misinformation, I’m not trying to be controversial.

“I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than to just talk to people.”

“I do all the scheduling myself, and I don’t always get it right,” he added.

But since his apology, there have been no new episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience, to which Spotify paid a reported $100m to obtain the exclusive rights.

New content usually goes live four times a week, with episodes predominantly released Tuesday through Friday.

However, Friday 28 January, Tuesday 1 February, and Wednesday 2 February have passed with no new episodes uploaded.

During a Wednesday earnings call, Mr Ek said that the company did not change its policies “based on any media cycle or calls from anyone else.”

And he added that it is too early to know what damage the Rogan controversy may have done the company.

“Usually when we have controversies in the past, those are measured in months, not days,” Ek said. “But I feel good about where we are in relation to that and top-line trends look healthy still.”

The Independent has reached out to Spotify for comment.

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