Spotify will never leave Joe Rogan

This week, Spotify removed Neil Young’s music catalog from its platform. On Monday, the legendary rocker published a letter criticizing the Swedish streamer for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 Vaccine. In it, he quotes Spotify’s exclusive podcast Joe Rogan’s Experience specifically: “They might have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Spotify quickly made a choice — Rogan.

Of course it did. Young vs. Spotify was supposed to be a culture war victory for Joe Rogan, but it wasn’t. There is no battle. Yes, a lot of people are angry with Rogan, including 270 healthcare professionals who have gone public. open letter to Spotify about the podcaster content that inspired Young. But there’s no evidence that this rancher influenced Rogan’s Spotify golden boy status. His podcasts remaining topped its charts in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. (By contrast, Young is the 778th most popular music artist.) Spotify did not give Rogan a reported $100 million in a noble attempt to spearhead a public health campaign. It has brought him money to be free, contrasting and almost constantly controversial. He was a shock. Spotify knew what it was buying in May 2020. Back then, when it moved through Rogan’s catalog, it dropped more than 40 older episodes, including interviews with Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes — and it faced a wave of backlash from angry fans for doing so. This time around, it seems less inclined to rate Rogan members than to accept that a fraction of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young superfans who care about public health will delete their accounts. .

No disrespect to Neil Young, but he would never move the needle here. When. Even if he calls on other artists to boycott Spotify, it’s unlikely any alliance will have the desired effect. First of all, there are practical barriers, as musicians are rarely the owners of their own music. Young doesn’t actually have the ability to delete his albums and has to get permission from his label to do so; It is far from assumed that the major studios will do the same for their contemporary stars. But let’s say they did — and say the streamer’s present top four artistsDrake, Ed Sheeran, Bad Bunny, and Ariana Grande, joined forces and yanked their music off Spotify — even then, it’s unlikely Spotify would banish Rogan.

Remember: Twitter only rocks President Trump when he’s a lame duck. And Twitter didn’t pay Trump $100 million to appear exclusively on its platform. Even if Spotify’s C-set develops a guilty conscience about Rogan encouraging young people not to get a Covid-19 vaccine, it won’t be able to censor his content that doesn’t involve himself as a publisher in addition to admitting its responsibility as a platform. This would then set a precedent for more thorough scrutiny of Spotify’s proprietary hits. Heaven forbid Call her daddy Host Alex Cooper began emphasizing whether George W. Bush did 9/11 or Dax Shepherd decided to interview a bunch of eugenicists. The podcasting department will become a minefield. And Spotify needs podcasting to be successful.

Spotify started out with music, but it has since moved into podcasts, pouring hundreds of millions into a remarkably productive effort to topple Apple and establish itself as the premier destination for podcasts. It paid $340 million to podcast network Gimlet Media in 2019 and nearly $200 million to The Ringer (my former employer) in 2020, as part of this flash. When people listen to music on Spotify, the streamer has to pay a third party (usually a record label). But when people listen to podcasts owned by Spotify, no third parties will pay. Spotify can place ads in its own podcast even for premium users who don’t have ads between songs. While paid subscriptions are still the company’s primary monetization engine, advertising is catching up, a development credit to the podcast branch. Podcasts are central to Spotify’s growth strategy. Rogan is at the heart of Spotify’s podcasting arm. It would take a consumer boycott on an unprecedented scale to make taking down Rogan worthwhile from a business perspective. I guess? As long as Rogan remains at the top of Spotify’s charts, he will remain immunized against the consequences.

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