Spotify exec: Joe Rogan saga has been ‘real learning experience’

Joe Rogan can start ‘own podcast’ amid Spotify controversy: Concha

Fox News contributor Joe Concha argues popular podcast host Joe Rogan has 11 million listeners a day and could start his ‘own podcast’ without being affiliated with any corporate entity.

Spotify's Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff says the recent controversy surrounding popular podcast host Joe Rogan has been a "real learning experience" for the company. 

Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff hosts an event around gender equity at Chateau Marmont on January 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Spotify) (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Spotify / Getty Images)

"We do feel that we have a responsibility to support creator expression, but also balance that creator expression with safety for our users and for our advertisers," Ostroff told advertisers during the Interactive Advertising Bureau annual conference in New York on Wednesday. 

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Rogan, who went exclusive with Spotify in 2020 in a deal that could net him roughly $100 million, has been accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation on his podcast. Artists who have announced plans to pull their music from Spotify in recent weeks include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, Graham Nash, India Arie, David Crosby and Stephen Stills

Joni Mitchell and Neil Young are among the artists to have pulled their music from Spotify over Joe Rogan’s podcast content. (Getty Images / Getty Images)

In response to the controversy, Spotify said it would add a content advisory to podcasts on its platform that discuss the coronavirus. The company previously said that it had removed over 20,000 podcasts discussing coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic due to its detailed content policies. Rogan also promised he would do his best to "balance things out" with future COVID-19 related discussions.

Comedian Joe Rogan performs during his appearance at The Ice House Comedy Club on May 10, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Michael Schwartz/WireImage / Getty Images)

In addition to criticism over the podcast's discussions about COVID-19, Rogan came under fire for his previous use of the N-word, which he has since apologized for. 

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek apologized to his staff in a memo on Sunday and noted that the company and Rogan's team had agreed to remove a select number of episodes from the platform. About 113 episodes of Rogan's podcast have been pulled from Spotify, according to tracking website JRE Missing.

Daniel Ek, co-founder and chief executive officer of Spotify Technology SA, arrives for the morning session of the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

While Ek strongly condemned Rogan's previous use of "racially insensitive language," he emphasized that he did not believe in "silencing" Rogan. He added that Spotify would invest $100 million in licensing, development and marketing of music and audio content from "historically marginalized groups."

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Ostroff warned on Wednesday that "the dilemma of moderation versus censorship" is one of the biggest challenges facing technology platforms today and urged advertisers to help Spotify find ways to do better. 

"We really want to be able to be good partners," she said. 

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SPOTSPOTIFY TECHNOLOGY SA172.63+6.53+3.93%

As of the end of 2021, Spotify had a total of 180 million paid subscribers and 406 million monthly active users. The company expects those numbers to grow to 183 million and 418 million, respectively, in the first quarter of 2022. The company had 3.6 million podcasts on its platform as of the end of the fourth quarter. 

Reuters was the first to report Ostroff's remarks.

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