Spotify acquired exclusivity of The Joe Rogan Experience, the world’s most popular podcast, back in May. By the end of the year, the podcast will be available exclusively on Spotify. While the acquisition is paying off – the show has been #1 on Spotify since it arrived on the platform, has been “outperforming” audience expectations, and has doubled Spotify’s stock – it is causing tensions inside Spotify as some activist employees want to stick the knife in.
The issue is not the host but the guests, particularly Abigail Shrier and Alex Jones, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Shrier is a writer who has documented cases of “detransitioners” – people who have regretted their transgender experience and surgery at a young age.
Jones, a publisher at Infowars and radio host, was banned across all major social media platforms in a coordinated effort by Big Tech.
This week, on Tuesday, Rogan hosted Jones along with comedian Tim Dillon. Some employees at Spotify internally “flagged” the episode because of Jones’ comments on the mask mandate and vaccines.
From the WSJ:
“A recent thread in the company’s #ethics-club channel centered on Mr. Rogan’s episode with Mr. Jones. Employees circulated information on how to flag content for review by Spotify’s trust-and-safety team, according to people familiar with the matter. That team is responsible for determining whether shows or music on the platform violate company policies barring content that incites violence or hatred, and can remove content if it crosses those lines.”
Jones said that masks do not necessarily help reduce the spread of the virus, an idea supported by some medical experts and scientific studies. On the polio vaccine, he said it can cause sickness.
On Wednesday, via Instagram, Rogan said that he “fact-checked every single crazy thing he [Jones] said.
He added that Jones says a lot of “crazy” “but accurate things.”
Other employees at the company do not mind Jones, as they understand controversy is why his podcast is so popular.
“He’s the biggest voice by far that’s going to accelerate our business. Getting him on Spotify – and soon exclusively – is going to help bring a lot more audiences onto the platform, and hopefully, we can spread that to other programming,” an employee told The Wall Street Journal.
Rogan maintains creative control of his show and Jones says that it’s in Rogan’s contract to be able to choose his own guests and not be censored. However, after hosting Shrier on one of his podcasts in September, some Spotify employees suggested the podcast needed editorial supervision. Thankfully, the management did not think that was necessary.
During its third-quarter earnings report, CEO Daniel Ek said Spotify’s goal is to become the “largest audio platform in the world.” The platform has to embrace differing opinions and diverse voices, to achieve that goal.
“The most important thing for us is to have clear policies in place. It doesn’t matter if you’re Joe Rogan or anyone else, we do apply those policies, and they need to be evenly applied,” Ek said.