Following the huge backlash and controversy, the audio streaming giant finally responded with new content policies and platform rules. According to the statement released by Spotify, listeners will now be directed to a COVID-19 hub, which will contain facts and information from medical and health professionals, as well as links to reliable sources.
“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19,” Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO said in the statement.
Spotify’s answer came after the Archewell Foundation, which is run by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, expressed concern over Spotify’s failure to restrict the spread of COVID misinformation.
There’s been a lot of conversation about information regarding COVID-19 on Spotify. We’ve heard the criticism and we’re implementing changes to help combat misinformation. https://t.co/ic8jfR1RNR
— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) January 30, 2022
What is the Spotify – Joe Rogan Podcast Controversy?
Comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan’s The Joe Rogan Experience were one of Spotify’s most listened to podcasts in 2020. He was reportedly paid $100 million to make his audio-video podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, exclusive to the streaming platform. With a larger number of listeners comes to a greater amount of responsibility, but that wasn’t the case for Rogan. In one of his podcasts, Rogan even recommended his listeners who are “young” and “healthy” not receive the COVID vaccine. This received a lot of backlashes and made headlines across the internet. A group of 270 scientists, professors, doctors, and healthcare workers wrote an open letter to Spotify expressing their concerns over the COVID misinformation spread by Rogan.
Following this, American singer and musician Neil Young wrote to his management team demanding that his own music be removed from the streaming service. According to the letter, which was first reported by Rolling Stone, stated, “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines—potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” and “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he continued. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
As Spotify picked Rogen over Young and pulled out Young’s music from the platform, other artists like Nils Lofgren and Joni Mitchell had their music removed from Spotify.
What role do Prince Harry and Meghan Markle play in all of this?
Spotify had earlier announced a multiyear podcast partnership with ‘Archewell Audio’, The Duke and Duchess’ non-profit organization, Archewell’s audio-production division. The deal reportedly cost $25 million. According to the official explanation, through the partnership, “The Duke and Duchess will produce podcasts and shows that build community through shared experiences, powerful narratives, and universal values.”
On Sunday, the couple broke their silence over the Spotify-Rogan controversy through an Archewell spokesperson.
“Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all-too-real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform,” the spokesperson said. “We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis.”
According to the report by Variety, over the course of three days this week, Spotify’s market valuation dropped by $2.1 billion.