Spotify has done a very strong bet on podcasts And the results are on sight. The streaming platform has an increasingly extensive catalog and exclusive productions that reach 365 million users worldwide. However, not everything is rosy.
Some podcasts available on Spotify have generated controversy when dealing with sensitive topics such as politics, sexual harassment and the COVID-19 pandemic. But nevertheless, Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO of Spotify, you do not believe that your company has editorial responsibility for what is said in your podcasts.
The Swedish businessman addressed the issue in an interview with Axios, in which he gave his opinion on the present and future of podcasts. When asked if Spotify should intervene in cases where the content of podcasts is controversial, he was against the possibility. As a striking fact, made a direct comparison with the rap.
“We also have a lot of highly paid rappers on Spotify, who make tens of millions of dollars, if not more, every year. And we don’t dictate what they put in their songs, either,” Ek said. In this way, the executive banished the possibility of installing a lowering of the line to address the most controversial topics.
Podcasts and Spotify’s (Non) Editorial Responsibility
One of the notorious cases of controversy that Spotify podcasts can cause is that of The Joe Rogan Experience. This title was added to the service in September 2020 and now is exclusive to the platform. Since its landing on Spotify, it has become the most listened to and has already been the subject of several criticisms.
Joe Rogan’s podcast was famous long before it hit Spotify. The variety of topics covered and the long list of personalities interviewed quickly made him a public favorite, especially in the United States. Through the program they have passed Elon Musk, Robert Downey Jr., Miley Cirus, Marques Brownlee and Jon Stewart, among many others.
However, he has also been a cause for a stir by summoning disputed figures such as Alex Jones, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump and a regular disseminator of disinformation about COVID-19. Even Rogan himself was in the eye of the storm when he was against vaccination in “young and healthy people.” Although he later retracted, his initial statements were widely criticized.
But this is not all. When The Joe Rogan Experience joined Spotify’s podcast catalog, the streaming service’s own employees expressed concern. As published at the time The Wall Street Journal, discontent occurred because they considered that certain materials covered in the program were anti-transgender.
Different businesses, different responsibilities?
Daniel Ek’s statements regarding Spotify’s editorial responsibility in relation to podcasts leaves a lot of fabric to cut. On the one hand, it is true that the streaming service is not responsible for the content of third-party songs uploaded to the platform. But on the other hand, it is also true that, within Spotify itself, podcasts have a very different business model than music.
Currently, the streaming service does not monetize podcasters based on the number of reproductions of their episodes, as is the case with musical artists. In fact, in cases like The Joe Rogan Experience, Spotify has paid exorbitant sums of money to earn its exclusivity. The platform’s multi-year contract with Joe Rogan was worth no less than $ 100 million. The question that arises, then, is the following: If music and podcasts have different businesses within the same platform, should the responsibility for them also be different?
Either way, in the future Spotify claims to be the lord and master of podcasts, and seems to have found the way to try. In the recent presentation of the financial results In the second quarter of 2021, the company highlighted the strong growth of sports podcasts from The Ringer, and also remarked that the Joe Rogan show has performed “above expectations.”