Spotify May Regret The Stance That They’ve Taken When It Comes To Joe Rogan

Last night news filtered out that Neil Young who had been demanding that either Spotify remove his catalog of music from the platform, or remove Joe Rogan from the platform because Young would not be on a platform with an anti-vaxxer like Rogan came to a head. In short, Spotify removed Young’s music. Effectively siding with Joe Rogan.

This triggered a backlash against Spotify. Here’s some examples on Twitter:

Of course there are those on the other side of the argument as well:

Frankly, I’m not surprised that things went down like this. Spotify paid something in the neighbourhood of $100 million USD for the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. So the chances that Spotify was going dump this podcast were between slim and none with slim packing their bags to leave town.

Now I spent a lot of time trolling Twitter last night and this morning, and I found way more Tweets against this move to remove Young’s music rather than for it. In other words, a lot more people on Twitter appear to support Neil Young. And they also appear to be against vaccine mis-information. Now is that due to the fact that these people are more vocal on Twitter? Maybe. Twitter while being a good source to get a pulse about what people think about a situation is hardly the definitive source of what people think. But I really think that Spotify has this wrong and they’ve picked the wrong side of this argument. Starting with this comment which was part of their statement when they pulled Neil Young’s catalog yesterday:

β€œWe have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to Covid since the start of the pandemic.

So they’ve removed podcasts related to COVID? I have to assume that they mean podcasts that have mis-information related to COVID because it isn’t clear from that sentence. But interestingly, they didn’t remove Joe Rogan’s podcast which is known to have COVID mis-information. Likely because they did pay about $100 Million USD for it, along with the listeners who come with it. From a PR perspective, the optics of that statement suck because it suggests that Rogan gets a free pass due to the value that his podcast brings to Spotify. Which doesn’t surprise me. But it does send one clear message to Spotify subscribers. Which is if you don’t like the fact that they’ve sided with Joe Rogan, cancel your subscription. And that appears to be happening based on what I see on Twitter. On what scale that cancellations are happening I don’t know, but I am guessing that we’ll find out the next time that Spotify reports their numbers.

The thing is that this situation is causing people to dump Spotify and try Tidal, Apple Music, and other streaming services. And they may not come back to Spotify if they like the service that they switched to. Which of course is great for those other services. But it’s bad for Spotify. What makes it worse for Spotify is that one of those companies that I mentioned above is a three trillion dollar company who buys other companies using the loose change in Tim Cook’s sofa. In other words, if Apple who is a company who isn’t afraid to take a stand decides to take a shot at Spotify, it might not end well for Spotify as Apple has way deeper pockets than Spotify and they may sense that Spotify is vulnerable at the moment. Which means that it’s the perfect time for Apple to try and take the kill shot. And then there’s the possibility that a Taylor Swift or an Adele decides to follow Neil Young’s lead and takes their fan base off of Spotify. Can Spotify afford to take that hit?

At this point Spotify needs to do a rethink of this and find a way to exit this situation gracefully. I say that because this has the potential to become a train wreck for Spotify. If it hasn’t already.

This will be fun to watch.

UPDATE: Well this isn’t going well for Spotify. This has happened since I wrote this article:

In case you haven’t seen or heard of this guy before, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus runs the World Health Organization. And he’s clearly picked a side in this argument. And it’s not Spotify’s side. And he’s not the only doctor to call out Spotify. Earlier this month hundreds of doctors and health care professionals in the U.S wrote an open letter to Spotify about the misinformation being shared on the podcast, according toΒ Rolling Stone.

Spotify is really going to regret being on the wrong side of this. I am calling it now.

4 Responses to “Spotify May Regret The Stance That They’ve Taken When It Comes To Joe Rogan”

  1. […] recently wrote about Neil Young demanding that Spotify remove Joe Rogan off their service because of the vaccine […]

  2. […] stance on having Joe Rogan who spreads COVID and vaccine mis-information on his podcast (see here and here for my stories on this), it seemed inevitable that I would get questions about how to move […]

  3. […] having Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pull their catalogs from Spotify, and having customers cancel their subscriptions […]

  4. […] is feeling the heat from the actions of their star podcaster Joe Rogan. With a pair of artists leaving and others questioning the company and calling for more artists to leave, you […]

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