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March 4, 2024

Spotify Doubles Down on Joe Rogan Despite Controversies

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Feb 3, 2024

Spotify has renewed its exclusive licensing deal with podcast host Joe Rogan for over $200 million, despite ongoing controversies around misinformation and racist language on his show.

Background on Joe Rogan and Spotify

Joe Rogan hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the world, The Joe Rogan Experience, which he launched in 2009. His show features long-form conversations with guests on a variety of topics.

In 2020, Spotify signed an exclusive deal to license Rogan’s podcast for over $100 million. The move was part of Spotify’s strategy to invest heavily in podcasting and become the top destination for podcast listening.

Rogan’s show has been embroiled in several controversies since moving exclusively to Spotify regarding claims that he has spread misinformation, particularly about COVID-19 vaccines, and has used racist language.

Several artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell tried to get their music removed from Spotify in protest of their affiliation with Rogan. Spotify ended up introducing a content advisory on podcasts discussing COVID-19 but did not take further action.

Spotify Renews Deal Despite Controversies

This week, Spotify announced it has renewed its exclusive licensing deal with Joe Rogan for over $200 million, more than double what it originally paid.

The move shows Spotify is doubling down on Rogan being an integral part of its platform despite the controversies surrounding The Joe Rogan Experience. Several technology publications criticized the deal as Spotify putting profits over responsibility:

“Spotify has made clear it will side with Rogan over truth and basic decency.” Gizmodo

“The streaming platform again chose controversy over responsibility.” The Verge

Spotify states they see Rogan as vital to their efforts to become the top platform for audio content:

“We see Joe Rogan as vital in our efforts to continue elevating audio creation and deliver consumers the content they desire.” Spotify Newsroom

Critics argue Spotify is simply unwilling to part with Rogan because of the huge audience he brings:

“He has a massive audience, and commands influence simply on account of his reach.” CNBC

Regardless of the reasoning, Spotify doubling down on their affiliation with such a controversial figure is likely to draw continued criticism from those concerned about misinformation and hate speech.

Key Details on Renewed Deal

While the total value is reportedly over $200 million, details on the length of the contract and exact payment terms have not been disclosed.

The key known details of the renewal include:

  • Multi-year deal – While exact length undisclosed, renewed for multiple years
  • Non-exclusive distribution – Rogan’s podcast can expand to other platforms like YouTube and Apple
  • Higher revenue share for Rogan – Estimated at nearly 50% of ad revenue

Rogan stands to make significantly more money compared to his previous Spotify contract estimated in the range of $30-50 million per year.

Allowing the podcast on other platforms seems intended to head off any potential antitrust regulatory issues for Spotify having an exclusive deal with such a popular show.

Mixed Reactions to Deal Renewal

Reactions to Spotify renewing its licensing deal with Joe Rogan have been mixed:

  • Rogan’s fans on online communities like Reddit were excited at the potential for more long-form episodes without censorship.
  • Artists and policy groups continued criticizing Spotify for giving Rogan’s show legitimacy.
  • Music labels are concerned with Spotify dominating the audio market by spending so much on exclusive deals rather than higher music royalties.
  • Spotify investors and shareholders seemed pleased at initial stock jump from the news indicating faith in the long-term benefits of having Rogan on the platform.

Here are some key reactions:

“This is a huge win for censorship-free discussions.” Joe Rogan Subreddit

“I’m really disappointed Spotify didn’t part ways with Rogan. His language incites violence.” Social policy group spokeswoman

“They throw so much money to him but claim they don’t have any for better artist payments.” Unnamed music executive

“This shows Spotify’s faith in Rogan driving more subscriptions over time.” Investing platform analyst

While Rogan himself has not commented much on the renewal, he is likely pleased at the chance to continue doing his show his way while getting paid even more.

What Happens Next

Looking ahead, here is what is likely in store now that Spotify has renewed its exclusive deal with Joe Rogan:

  • Increased subscriptions – Rogan expected to help bring in more subscribers as Spotify competes against Apple and Amazon
  • Ongoing controversies – Critics will keep calling for limiting misinformation or dropping Rogan altogether
  • Possible expansion into video – As part of being non-exclusive, speculation Rogan may simulcast video versions of his podcast to YouTube

As Spotify continues betting big on Rogan being key to its future growth, how the company navigates the line between profitability and responsibility with such a polarizing figure remains an open question. Rogan shows no signs of backing away from the commentary and topics that create controversies.

Only time will tell how much the benefits of expanding Rogan’s reach outweigh risks from the backlash for Spotify. For now, Spotify has made clear Joe Rogan will continue to have an enormous platform to share his opinions – $200 million worth of enthusiasm.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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