'We Should Have Done it Earlier': Spotify CEO Speaks Out on Joe Rogan Controversy
Spotify reported its Q4 2021 earnings on Wednesday amid controversy that has rocked the company in recent weeks.
The streaming platform has been facing mounting pressure to either remove or post a disclaimer on episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience that discuss Covid and the pandemic. The criticism is coming from across the board, including from artists who host their content on Spotify.
Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby and others have completely pulled their catalogs from the platform, accusing Spotify of being irresponsible for allowing Rogan to spread "dangerous misinformation."
"I do not know if they're right. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a scientist," Rogan said in response to the controversy. "I'm just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them. Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong. But I try to correct them."
Following the widespread backlash, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced that Spotify would begin adding disclaimers and a content advisory warning surrounding any of its content that discusses or mentions Covid and the pandemic.
In Tuesday's earnings call, Ek doubled down on his decision and admitted that this was something the company should have already been doing, independent of the Rogan drama.
"Obviously, it's been a few notable days here at Spotify," Ek began with his remarks. "When we entered into the podcast space in 2019 with the intent to help modernize and grow this space for all type of creators, we assumed it would challenge and test our teams in new ways. And there's no doubt that the last several weeks have presented a number of learning opportunities."
Ek didn't directly address the removal of catalogs or what he perceives to be the immediate impact of the fallout because it's "too early" to tell.
"We've taken pretty dramatic steps … one is publishing our policies and making them clear to the world. Just an acknowledgment from my side. That's probably late, we should have done it earlier, and that's on me," Ek admitted. "But the second thing is very, very big and no other audio platform has done this, and that's providing this content advisory notice next to Covid-19 content."
He explained that all podcast episodes discussing Covid moving forward will be tagged with a notice that links to messages from scientists, doctors and CDC and WHO specialists, something Ek says is "unprecedented" in the world of audio streaming.
Spotify ended Q4 with 180 million paid subscribers and 406 MAUs, bringing in $3.04 billion in total revenue, which is about a 40% increase year over year.
However, as of Thursday afternoon, the company was down a whopping 50.01% year over year.
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