Archive for Spotify

Spotify Rolls Out A COVID19 Disclosure Tab…. What Took Them So Long

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 28, 2022 by itnerd

I haven’t written about Spotify for a while now. At least not since the whole Joe Rogan thing blew up. But I’m writing about it today because according to CNBC Spotify is rolling out a COVID19 disclosure tab in content that mentions COVID19.

Spotify is rolling out a Covid content advisory tab on podcasts and other content that mentions the coronavirus.

Spotify promised the feature, a small blue tab that directs to its Covid-19 information hub, nearly two months ago. It comes after a handful of musicians and creators boycotted the platform for its airing of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which they say spread Covid-19 vaccine misinformation.

So why did it take them two months to roll this out? The fact that it took them this long would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. You have to wonder if they really take this seriously. My guess is no.

Spotify Won’t Remove Joe Rogan…. But They Will Remove Russian News Outlets Over Disinformation Concerns

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 3, 2022 by itnerd

Normally, I would applaud Spotify for this:

Spotify has taken several steps in response to Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, including closing its offices in Russia “indefinitely.”

The company is not disabling access to its service within Russia. “We think it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to allow for the global flow of information,” a Spotify representative said in a statement provided to Variety.

Like other internet platforms, Spotify has restricted the discoverability of Russian state-affiliated content on the streaming audio service. In addition, the company has removed all content from Kremlin-backed outlets RT and Sputnik from Spotify’s platform.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” the Spotify rep said. “Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever.”

And while I will admit that Spotify doing all of the above is good as stopping disinformation is important. Why aren’t they taking the same view with Joe Rogan and everything he does?

Oh. Right. They paid him at least $200 million to attract new subscribers.

Call me a cynic, but I find the stance that they have taken on Russia incompatible with the stance on Joe Rogan if you look at it from a certain point of view. Sure we should see these as separate issues. But I’m human and I don’t. And I am going to go out on a limb and say that others will see this the same way.

David Crosby Tees Off On Spotify… And It’s Epic

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 21, 2022 by itnerd

Rock legend David Crosby had a few things to say about Spotify, and Stereogum was there to report on it. First off, he has had his solo music yanked from Spotify, becoming the latest artist to ditch the company. Here’s the back story:

Of course I had to ask Irving [Azoff]. He holds my publishing. The amazing and really wonderful thing is both [Azoff’s company] Iconic and BMG went along with it. They said, “If that’s what you feel you have to do, we’ll go along with it.” I was stunned. That is not normal corporate behavior. Normally they go for the dollar and the quickest possible answer. They don’t go for that, they don’t do that. They don’t support a moral stand.

With me, you have to understand — I don’t like Spotify. I don’t like any of the streamers, because they don’t pay us properly. Their proportion is wrong. They’re making billions with a b and they’re paying out pennies with a p. That’s not OK. It’s not OK in that it took away half my income, and it’s not OK in that, especially, it makes it impossibly difficult for young people to make it in the business. It doesn’t pay them anything. It’s wrong. I don’t like Spotify on purpose because of that. I don’t like their quality level either. They bum up the signal pretty badly. But they and all the other streaming services are ripping us off. They’re quite happy with it. They have no intention of changing it.

Frankly, streaming is the thing of the future. You’re not going to see any physical objects, in film or music. It’s going to keep going this way. But it isn’t right and I don’t have to shut up and pretend that it’s right because I want their money. I don’t want their money. I want what I had. I’m not willing to lick their boots because I need their pitiful $1.57 they’re paying me. They’re not doing the right thing, and in the long run it will get them. In some kind of karmic thing, it’s going to come around and crush them. I don’t know what it’ll be, but I hope it’s soon. I really don’t like how they’re all sticking together and staying with it.

That’s a pretty blunt assessment of streaming services in general. But he goes further by commenting on Spotify when it comes the quality of it’s broadcasts:

No, I don’t want to be in there. I don’t like ’em and their quality’s lousy and their payscale’s lousy and I don’t want anything to do with them.

On the quality front, pretty much any other streaming service has better quality than Spotify.

And then he comments on Spotify as a company:

I don’t see them growing a conscience. I don’t believe there are good people working there. If they were good people, they wouldn’t work there. They’re not going to suddenly grow some balls and stand against the trend. They’re not going to feel the need to do the right thing. They’re going to keep on collecting money and being shitty to the world. That’s what we have to deal with.

If I were working for Spotify and I read that, I’d be reconsidering my life choices. And if I was Daniel Ek who is the CEO of Spotify….. Well, he likely doesn’t care as he’s in with Joe Rogan to the tune of at least $200 million. So he’s clearly chosen which side of history he’s going to be on.

The whole interview is worth a read. And I suspect that this will be read by people in the corner offices in Spotify. Whether they use this as a catalyst to reconsider how they have handed this situation is an entirely different discussion.

Spotify May Have Paid AT LEAST $200 Million To Get Joe Rogan…. Another Reason To #DeleteSpotify

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 18, 2022 by itnerd

From the “boy they must have been desperate” department comes a story from the New York Times that cites two sources who both say that Spotify didn’t pay $100 million to land Joe Rogan. It was actually at least $200 million:

To help propel Spotify into its next phase as an all-purpose audio juggernaut, and further challenge Apple and Google, it wanted a superstar podcaster, much as Howard Stern helped put satellite radio on the map in 2006. Spotify executives came to view Joe Rogan — a comedian and sports commentator whose no-holds-barred podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” was already a monster hit on YouTube — as that transformative star.

In May 2020, after an intense courtship, Spotify announced a licensing agreement to host Mr. Rogan’s show exclusively. Although reported then to be worth more than $100 million, the true value of the deal that was negotiated at the time, which covered three and a half years, was at least $200 million, with the possibility of more, according to two people familiar with the details of the transaction who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss it.

The $100 million figure certainly explained why despite all the noise around Rogan, Spotify refused to dump him. But if the figure is actually $200 million or more, then this has to be an all in moment for Spotify as you have to imagine that they simply can’t walk away from all that cash regardless of how problematic he is. Which to be frank says a lot about Spotify as a company. Which is that they are willing to do anything to be the top audio platform out there.

Maybe Neil Young was right and Spotify employees should leave while they still have a soul. Because clearly Spotify doesn’t have one.

Adding To The Reasons To #DeleteSpotify Are Accusations That They Are Pushing Anti-Vax Content To Subscribers

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 13, 2022 by itnerd

There’s a song by Jay-Z called “99 Problems”. Well Spotify has at least 99 problems and adding to that list is this story from The Guardian where they are now being accused of pushing anti-vax content to subscribers:

Songs that claim Covid-19 is fake and describe the vaccines as “poison” are being actively promoted to Spotify users in playlists generated by its content recommendation engine.

Tracks found on the world’s largest music streaming service explicitly encourage people not to get vaccinated and say those who do are “slaves”, “sheep”, and victims of Satan. Others call for an uprising, urging listeners to “fight for your life”.

“They fooled the whole world with PCR testing. The thought police are patrolling. Can’t you see what’s unfolding?” say the lyrics of another, adding: “The whole thing ends once the people have risen.”

Spotify this weekend removed several of the songs flagged to it by the Observer, which it said breached rules banning content that promotes “dangerous, false, or deceptive content about Covid-19” that may pose a threat to public health.

Before being removed, the songs could be easily found using keywords through Spotify’s search tool. But they were also actively promoted to users who express interest in similar songs via automatically generated playlists, potentially bringing them to a far wider audience.

So in short, Spotify isn’t policing this content at all. And only when they get caught in a “gotcha” moment do they remove the content. Unless you’re Joe Rogan of course. As much as I’d like to think that Spotify is just asleep at the switch here, my ability to get them the benefit of the doubt went out the door when they sided with Joe Rogan and all the various issues he brings to Spotify. I think it’s becoming clear which side of the fence that Spotify is on. Which means that if you don’t like what they are all about, and you’re a subscriber of Spotify, you should just #DeleteSpotify.

A New Reason To #DeleteSpotify …. Joe Rogan Speaks About Child Sex Abuse And It Doesn’t Go Well

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 10, 2022 by itnerd

I am beginning to wonder what it will take for Joe Rogan to be punted from Spotify. Or put another way, what line does he have to cross before Spotify says that having him on their platform isn’t worth it. I ask this question because Yahoo News has a story on the latest source of outrage related to Rogan via his latest podcast episode. Brace yourselves:

Speaking with stand-up comic Akaash Singh during a three-hour interview, Rogan said that boys who have sexual relationships with older women are “going to be fine” provided that the woman is not “gross”.

The pair discussed a female friend of Rogan’s who allegedly had an affair with a 30-year-old teacher when she was in high school, and the songs that have inspired men to write about lusting after underage women.

Referencing The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” or Gene Simmons “Christine Sixteen”, Rogan noted: “No one would write a song about that today. You’d be like, wait a minute, are you saying you want to f*** kids? Is that your song? Hey! No! I’m not gonna – I’m just saying don’t stand so close to me.”

Rogan continued that the “crazy thing” is that “no one gives a f*** if it’s a 15-year-old boy and a 30-year-old lady” before Singh interjected: “G’s up.”

I seriously need a shower after reading that because this is just gross and wrong on so many levels. Including the fact that if you look at Spotify’s own platform rules, this appears to violate those rules. Let me illustrate what rule he’s violated:

And what happens if you break those rules? This is what is supposed to happen:

As far as I am aware, Rogan’s podcast is still there.

So I once again ask this question. At what point does Spotify decide that Rogan needs to be punted from their platform? Or is Daniel Ek (CEO of Spotify) and company simply holding their noses while they hope that their $100 million gamble pays off for them. Assuming that the world doesn’t join the #DeleteSpotify movement first.

Neil Young Offers Advice To Spotify Employees…. Quit Spotify

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 8, 2022 by itnerd

Clearly Neil Young is not done with Spotify just yet. As if to stir the pot some more, Young posted on his official website a number of thoughts. Including this:

To the musicians and creators in the world, I say this:
You must be able to find a better place than SPOTIFY to be the home of your art. 

To the workers at SPOTIFY, I say Daniel Ek is your big problem – not Joe Rogan. Ek pulls the strings.
Get out of that place before it eats up your soul. The only goals stated by EK are about numbers – not art, not creativity.
Notice that EK never mentions the Medical Professionals who started this conversation. Look, one last time – at the statements EK has made.

Then be free and take the good path.

Seeing as Spotify employees have had some issues with the course that CEO Daniel Ek has taken, this isn’t going to help Ek in terms of quieting things down. And as for musicians taking their music off of the platform, that only works if you either own your music or have control of it. But it is a provocative statement that may find some takers in the coming days.

Clearly this isn’t over. Not by a long shot.

Spotify Can Have Joe Rogan, Or They Can Have Subscribers, But They Can’t Have Both

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 7, 2022 by itnerd

I admit that this sounds like what Neil Young said right before he pulled his music from Spotify. But I believe that with the revelations over the weekend of Joe Rogan being overtly racist on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, I think Spotify is reaching a point where they are having a rubicon moment. Because having a guy who spreads COVID mis-information is bad enough. But add racism to the mix and I believe that Spotify is in a whole world of hurt as that’s another rallying point for those on the #DeleteSpotify side of the fence.

And I think that Spotify knows this because Newsweek is reporting that Daniel Ek has addressed the racism charges via an internal memo to staff:

In a letter sent to staff, Ek addressed Rogan’s use of racial slurs and derogatory comments about Black people and confirmed the removal of certain episodes.

“Not only are some of Joe Rogan’s comments incredibly hurtful—I want to make clear that they do not represent the values of this company,” Ek wrote in the memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

“I know this situation leaves many of you feeling drained, frustrated and unheard.”

Ek goes on to say that the company has spoken with Rogan about “some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language.”

Following these chats “and his own reflections,” Ek said that Rogan “chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify.”

Despite “strongly condemning” Rogan’s comments, Ek said he does “not believe that silencing Joe is the answer” and that “canceling voices is a slippery slope.”

So if that’s going on inside his company, you have to imagine what’s going on outside. While Twitter isn’t the gold standard of exactly figuring out what public sentiment is, it does give one a sense of what people think. Here’s a few examples that I found:

That last Tweet is telling because the narrative is starting to become that Spotify supports what Joe Rogan does. Even if that includes racism. If you’re in Spotify’s PR department, that’s got to send shivers down your spine. And again, I think that Spotify knows this. Here’s why I say that via the same Newsweek article that I linked to above:

Ek then pledged $100 million—the same reported figure paid for the exclusive Rogan deal—to licensing, developing, and marketing music and other audio content by creators from historically marginalized groups.

It seems to me that this is an attempt by Ek to distance the company from Rogan. But I am not sure that will be enough. With these latest racism charges, it’s way too late for that if you’re Spotify to distance yourself. And I think you now need to make a choice if you’re Spotify. Do you choose your subscribers, or do you choose Joe Rogan? Because as their troubles with the former mount, it’s becoming clear that Spotify cannot have both and they need to make a choice.

Choose Wisely Spotify.

Spotify Quietly Removes Dozens Of Joe Rogan Podcast Episodes

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 6, 2022 by itnerd

I am guessing that Spotify must be feeling the heat because word has filtered out from a couple of sources that dozen’s of episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience have seemingly disappeared in the last 24 hours. The Huffington Post says over seventy episodes have disappeared:

Some 113 episodes of Rogan’s show have now been removed from Spotify, which is the podcast’s exclusive host, according to data from a website that tracks deleted episodes. (It’s unclear when the approximately 40 other episodes were removed.) That’s just a fraction of the show’s total number of episodes, which stands at around 1,700.

The guests on the episodes taken down on Friday include multiple comedians (like Iliza Shlesinger and Tom Segura), fellow celebrity podcaster Marc Maron, and Vice Media CEO Shane Smith. The previously removed episodes include interviews with far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and white nationalist Stefan Molyneux.

Spotify has been mum on the move, which comes after the company’s leaders spent days supporting the podcast host against an onslaught of criticism from angry artists and subscribers.

While this could be an optics exercise to say “see, we’re doing something”, I am going to guess that this might have something to do with it:

Among Spotify users, 19% said they have already canceled their service — or plan to — over the Rogan uproar, according to a Feb. 1 consumer poll conducted by Forrester Research.

The study also found that 54% of those who use Spotify have no intention of canceling their subscription, while 18.5% said they would considering canceling only if more artists who they like pull their music from the platform. About 8.5% said they thought about canceling their subscription but that Spotify’s features were too important to them.

So if we accept that 19% of people polled have already cancelled their Spotify subscription, that’s not insignificant. Though I will point out that polls should always be treated with a bit of suspicion. So you have to take this with a grain of salt until Spotify’s Q1 numbers come out in a couple of months which will tell the true story. Though if that is even half way accurate, Spotify clearly has a problem. But I would say that this is a bigger problem for Spotify:

Joe Rogan apologized Saturday for the many previous instances in which the host used the n-word on his Spotify podcast.

Rogan, already under fire in recent weeks after medical professionals and musicians decried him for helping spread misinformation on the coronavirus, posted a video on Instagram to address what he described as “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”

Rogan made the apology in response to a compilation video shared widely on social media this past week showing various moments over 12 years in which Rogan said the n-word on his show. The video was posted by singer India.Arie, who recently removed her catalogue from Spotify in response to Rogan’s “language around race.”

While Rogan argued that the clips were taken out of context, the comedian acknowledged that the video looked “horrible, even to me.” In a caption accompanying the video, Rogan wrote that there was “a lot of s— from the old episodes of the podcast that I wish I hadn’t said, or had said differently.”


Listeners also noted that about 70 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” were taken off Spotify.

Among the purged content is a 2018 appearance by Gad Saad, a marketing professor who studies behavioral sciences at Concordia University at Montreal. On Twitter, Saad said that, “if memory serves me right,” Rogan had used the n-word, “but it was not in a racist manner notwithstanding the likely minefield.”

Saad said that he did not remember the conversation in full, but that he recalled telling Rogan about a university dean getting fired after recommending a book with the n-word in the title — one, Saad said, that had been written by a Black civil rights activist.

“If you’re using the n-word to describe a title, as told to you by a guest on your show, then maybe Spotify should have the most minimal of functioning brain and say, ‘That doesn’t seem to violate anything,’ ” Saad said in a video. “Actually, in my view, it insults the dignity of Black people to say that they must be so emotionally fragile, that the mention of that word, literally in any context is simply unacceptable.”

Neither Rogan nor Spotify have given a reason for the episodes being pulled.

Now that we’ve gone from COVID mis-information to racism, Spotify really has a big problem on its hands. And simply deleting episodes and acting like the problem doesn’t exist won’t solve that.

Spotify CEO Says He Finds Some Of Joe Rogan’s Content “Very Offensive” …. WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 4, 2022 by itnerd

In a stunning admission, the CEO of Spotify Daniel Ek had this to say in a Spotify town hall as reported by The Verge:

“A publisher has editorial control over a creator’s content — they can take action on the content before it’s even published,” he says, like editing episodes, removing guests, or preventing one from publishing at all. Ek noted that Spotify does have editorial control over the properties it owns outright, like The Ringer and Gimlet, but emphasized the distinction between those studios and Rogan. “Even though JRE is an exclusive, it is licensed content. It is important to note that we do not have creative control over Joe Rogan’s content. We don’t approve his guests in advance, and just like any other creator, we get his content when he publishes, and then we review it, and if it violates our policies, we take the appropriate enforcement actions.”

Notably, Ek did not defend Rogan’s views. “There are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive,” he said.

He adds that there are a “number” of JRE episodes Spotify has removed because they violate the platform’s rules. (It’s unclear what episodes Ek is referencing, but fans noticed some missing when Rogan made the move to the platform in September 2020, and Rogan acknowledged their removal last March.) 

So this ties into an article that I wrote a few days ago. But the thing that I find interesting is that even the CEO of Spotify has problems with Rogan. Yet the service that he runs still hosts his content. Thus showing that this is all about the Benjamins for him. Or put another way, Spotify paid Rogan something around $100 million in hopes that he would help Spotify turn a profit on a consistent basis. So Ek is going to ride that horse as long as he can do so because he really has no plan B. I also find it interesting that when Rogan made the move to Spotify, some of his episodes disappeared. Thus it’s clear that Spotify knew what they were getting when they signed Rogan. And this is clearly unsettling to Spotify employees:

For some employees, though, Ek and the team’s sentiments rang hollow. Throughout the town hall, they messaged internally, according to screenshots viewed by The Verge, expressing disappointment with the choice Spotify made in not only signing Rogan but also in defending him. They questioned how the company considers itself a platform while still actively promoting JRE and including its logo on the cover art and how what some consider an ethical issue is being put in pure business terms.

I take that to mean that Ek’s problems are multifaceted. As in he has to deal with external forces as well as his own employees protesting about Joe Rogan. That’s not a good place to be if you’re Ek. And it’s also a sure sign that you might be on the wrong side of this, and that you should be reconsidering your choices when it comes to this.