Joe Rogan versus the world, or how Spotify chose a podcaster over musicians
The streaming platform Spotify decided not to bow to the pressure put on it by musicians. On the contrary, it met their demands by removing their music from the service (which the artists in question may have overstepped in their demands). Joe Rogan has been accused of sowing misinformation, racism and fostering pandemonium, yet Spotify has somewhat sided with the creator. Ideology, support or calculation and profit?
As reported by Reuters, on Feb. 8, 2022, singer-songwriter Neil Young demanded that Spotify Technology SA employees quit.
In addition, he called for an end to support for U.S. banks and financial institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase & What, or the podium of global finance. All this in the context of the coronavirus, the fight for climate and racial equality.
Young's statement on his website criticized the service's CEO, Daniel Eka.
This event is the accumulation of a conflict that escalated between artists opposed to one of the creators and the service itself, which stated that it would not take away creative freedom and the right to proclaim their views. A former member of Buffalo Springfield, in the wake of such a turn of events, claimed that Daniel Ek is the main problem in terms of criticism of American podcaster Joe Rogan.
Spotify's situation on the market
Spotify reports monthly active users increased 18 percent. year-over-year to 406 million, with the premium segment scoring 180 million. According to the document, ads accounted for 15 percent of revenue in the fourth quarter of last year, a result of the growth of content windows, rather than exclusive ads, which helped increase its reach. Spotify aims to get up to 50 million creators on its platform to ensure diversity of content, and will continue to invest in tools, resources, and services to meet those needs. – We want to be the best place for audio creators – said Spotify CEO – We've only scratched the surface of the creative potential in audio – he added.
The Joe Rogan Experience – incorrectly?
Joe Rogan is a sports journalist, martial arts master and for the past 13 years host of the podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience". His broadcasts are the most listened to on the platform we just discussed, and some speculate that he is the most powerful podcaster in the world. According to variety.com says Rogan's talk-show is the biggest of any show on Spotify, and with more than 52 million views on youtube of a guest appearance by Elon Musk and guests including Miley Cyrus, Kanye West and Neil de Grasse, it's safe to say the show's reach is one of the biggest in the world for a podcast. It's an interesting result given the controversy pouring from the headphones, though what's controversial to one side may not necessarily be so to the other. The biweekly portal.com accurately stated, in analyzing Rogan's work, that Rogan allows each guest to speak as they wish, with him not hosting a serious podcast in a scripted tone, but rather „small talk” something like chatting with a friend in a bar about how they're doing, how they perceive certain facts, and if they'd like to share something out of the ordinary. In such a climate, it is not difficult to symbolically "smoke something". Although it doesn't necessarily have to be about randomness.
Rogan deliberately goes beyond political correctness, tossing around slogans that some circles would consider straight up hate speech. The writer of these words guesses that this is the factor that determines to the greatest extent the importance and role of this program. The ubiquitous politics of correctness and the thought police present in our minds, irrationally inhibiting any insights that don't fit into trends is the everyday reality of the masses of Western society. I speculate that a lot of people, even if they don't agree with something, are willing to listen to a different opinion from the tandem presented in the mainstream.
Joe's podcast provides a great break from this reality by showing other people's point of view, listening to Musk or laughing at long forgotten jokes. Rogan's podcasts range from one hour to even hours five. and of course it can be fodder for any number of people who identify with racism, xenophobia, or anti-globalism, but also for so-called. Left-wing circles may find it a valuable source of „bouncing the ball” and of screwing up their vision of the world through the psychological effect of confirmation. Whichever way you look at it, Joe Rogan is one of the biggest creators on the Internet, who you love or hate, and you can make a bold claim about his influence on the opinion of a multitude of individuals.
A lot of people forget that he is also a comedian and satirist, who can show reality in a distorting mirror, although he also smuggles his views under the guise of jokes and innocent phrases, which during the unmasking turn out to be irrelevant. Then the author calls himself the creator of a small podcast, which has grown to enormous proportions, and describes himself as a simple fool. Rogan is a shrewd marketer at the same time. He does not contribute in any way than during his podcasts. When confronted with accusations of racism, xenophobia, conspiracy theories and stupidity, this one responds with silence, occasionally referring to an aspect sporadically during the conversation. However, he recently issued a statement and apology after stirring up controversy about his views on COVID-19 and that young people don't need the vaccine.
Spotify – why podcasting, not music?
That's easy, because in 2020 the service signed an agreement to exclusively license Rogan's songs on its platform, which is precisely what the accusations against a creator who spreads misinformation and a service that fosters it. Spotify's backlash was limited to merely expressing disagreement with the views presented, which did not change even when musicians (singer Joni Mitchell, guitarist Nils Lofgren, musician Brene Brown) and podcasters (Mary L. Trump, Roxane Gay) have avalanched demands to have their songs removed from the site, claiming they cannot share the platform with racists, fools or even potential murderers. Even in the face of such an image crisis, Daniel Ek decided not to spin his whip at all costs and get rid of the biggest jewel in his earnings, which was not without other consequences.
A Washington Post article indicates that the White House has joined the discussion, with press secretary Jen Psaki issuing a statement expressing the need to regulate talk of coronavirus – "Our hope is that all major tech platforms and all major news sources, for that matter, be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as covid-19" – stated.
Spotify – a Pyrrhic victory?
Did Spotify win? By all means, but can we call it a Pyrrhic victory? Not really – it all depends from which perspective you look at it. Looking at the business aspect, they've managed to keep a contracted star bringing them profits and media coverage. Yes, they did lose some image and some notable, for some even legendary music icons. However, from the point of view of drunkardism, they suffered the smallest losses they could and this is commendable. The situation Neil Young put them in was a lose-lose situation, as the ultimatum he imposed involved a loss independent of the decision made. Given Spotify's portrayal of itself as a platform that favors creators and advocates for free speech, they made the right bet by not caving on their decision and not directly influencing Rogan's actions.
It may remind us a bit of our domestic situation of Krzysztof Stanowski and the mayor of Wieluń, who in a caricatured way advocated freedom of speech and action when a journalist proposed alternative solutions – his ultimatum. Both Pawel Okrasa and Spotify were put to the wall, although Daniel Ek did much better than the Polish politician. The company showed its strength, even despite the uncertain situation, which was slightly broken by officials and a bump on the stock market – 2 billion dollars is quite a lot, but the market value of 50 billion allows to get over such a loss.
Spotify, in a compromise, announced that it would introduce a "content tip" to every episode that includes a discussion of coronavirus. Joe Rogan apologized on Instagram and promised to structure the conversation. It will be interesting to see how this situation will affect his work, although in the face of much bigger scandals and scandals associated with celebrities, even in Poland, as a result of which they have not suffered any real consequences, we can be sure that also in this case, not much will change. So it seems that both parties, despite the wounds, came out of the situation unscathed, and the musicians deprived themselves of a source of income. Who knows, maybe they'll be back there sooner than we think – which even Daniel Ek himself predicts, expressing hope for their quick return.