The Spotify Discourse

Written by on February 2, 2022

Oh, Spotify. The go-to platform for music streaming that everyone loves to hate, but no one seems to do anything about. “Pay artists more!” we cry. “Improve your audio quality!” we exclaim. The brand remains silent – but what could possibly force the streaming giant to bend? Answer: Joe Rogan.

For those blissfully unaware of The Joe Rogan Experience, I envy you. Joe Rogan and his podcast have exploded in popularity over the years, and in recent weeks have come under fire for the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19 and vaccines.

The whole debacle (or at least, this one, there have been others) started last week when multi-Grammy Award winning artist Neil Young published an open letter to Spotify saying, in essence, “Do something about Joe Rogan or I’m removing all of my music from your platform.” Since then, other artists including Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren have followed suit in ditching the streaming service.

At first, it seemed that Spotify would not blink (yet again), standing silently by Rogan – who has an exclusive streaming deal with the brand (Spotify reportedly signed Rogan for over $100 Million in May 2020). However, money talks. Spotify lost over $2 Billion in valuation last week after Young posted his letter. Since then, the platform has announced that they will add a content advisory on any podcast that discusses COVID-19 in any capacity, which will direct them to a hub containing data-backed information regarding the pandemic and vaccines.

The platform is touting this measure as “the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”

So where does this leave us? Well for one: it seems that Spotify has actually been forced to take a stand on something. But perhaps the greater impact here is that we are finally starting to have a conversation about the responsibility of platforms regarding the content they promote and host, and that’s a good thing.

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