Spotify has been censoring content on its platform for a while now – including deleting dozens of episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. That is one of the reasons why any claim that their decision not to kick Rogan out now has anything to do with Spotify supporting free speech should be taken with a huge grain of salt.
In fact, as the company just announced via a spokesperson, over 20,000 various podcast episodes about Covid have been deleted since the start of the pandemic.
But Neil Young’s ultimatum to either remove his music, or Rogan’s hit show from the platform, was too much even for Spotify, who sided with Rogan. Young’s complaint about not wanting to have his content on the same service as Rogan had to do with the star podcaster allegedly spreading misinformation about Covid and vaccines; and if he wasn’t exactly that – a star podcaster who has a deal worth $100 million with Spotify – it isn’t that unlikely that the streaming platform would have gotten rid of him.
So while Spotify here chose to err on the side of making money, Young issued a statement on his website pontificating about the danger that Rogan’s podcast allegedly poses, criticizing Spotify for allowing “grossly unfactual information” to be presented – and apparently believing that the platform’s audience made up mostly of adults in their 20s are people incapable of thinking for themselves, who are instead “impressionable and easy to swing.”
Spotify’s explanation of the decision to comply with Young’s wishes and remove his music – besides mentioning the massive censorship effort it has been involved in since the start of the pandemic as something positive to bring up – adds that the platform has “great responsibility” and must “balance both safety for listeners and freedom for creators.”
Cynics would say that its balance sheet is what Spotify is really trying to “balance” here, since “freedom for creators” hasn’t featured as a particular consideration so far.
In April 2021, reports said that a total of 42 episodes of Rogan’s podcast had been deleted from his back catalog.