As the impact from the Joe Rogan vs. Neil Young COVID-19 disinformation scandal continues, Spotify’s growing pains continue to sting. When iconic singer Neil Young accused Spotify of promoting misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines through its most popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, the company’s difficulties were exacerbated. Young said that Spotify was profiting from falsehoods concerning COVID-19 and vaccines, forcing Spotify to choose between him and Joe Rogan. Rogan was chosen by Spotify, which forced Young to withdraw his entire body of work from the platform.
Since then, a number of other well-known performers have followed suit. Joni Mitchell, the legendary singer-songwriter, was one of the first to speak out, saying she did so because “irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives.” David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, Young’s former bandmates, stated that they would join him in leaving Spotify due to “dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify’s Joe Rogan podcast.” Nils Lofgren, a guitarist for Crazy Horse and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, has made a similar decision to delete his whole discography. In response to the backlash, Spotify added a content warning to any podcast episode that discussed COVID-19.
According to the business, the advisory will drive listeners to a COVID-19 hub that would offer them with authoritative sources and links. Meanwhile, Joe Rogan issued a lengthy message on Instagram, concluding that he will “try his best” to balance provocative ideas with various points of view. “I apologize if I irritate you, and if you appreciate the podcast, thank you,” Rogan continued.
It’s unclear, though, how effective this damage-control has been. In the wake of the incident, the streaming behemoth estimated current quarter subscribers lower than Wall Street projections, causing the company’s shares to drop as much as 18 percent in after-hours trading, according to Reuters.
Spotify’s executives appear to be hoping that this is simply a blip on the radar, stating that it’s too early to tell the full extent of the harm. “Normally, when we’ve had scandals in the past, they’ve been measured in months, not days,” Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek is believed to have said at a company meeting. “However, I’m pleased with where we’re at in that regard, and top-line trends continue to appear healthy.” According to the Verge, Ek also said, “There are many things Joe Rogan says that I completely disagree with and find incredibly disrespectful.”
However, the streaming service claims that it has no editorial control over any content makers, arguing that it is only a platform with no influence over content before it is posted, as opposed to a publisher with a responsibility to manage content. Some, on the other hand, believe Rogan’s relationship with him is a little more difficult. After all, Rogan — who has an average of 11 million viewers each episode — struck a $100 million agreement with Spotify in 2020 for exclusive rights to his podcast.