A Spotify announcement in May 2020 shared the details of a licensing deal with podcaster Joe Rogan (“The Joe Rogan Experience”), stating that the deal paid Rogan $100 million. However, two anonymous Spotify sources have told The New York Times that the streamer and Rogan agreed to a deal paying him at least $200 million.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has faced intense criticism in recent weeks for his failure to remove Rogan from the platform after one episode featured Dr. Robert Malone, a COVID-19 vaccine skeptic who openly spread virus misinformation throughout the episode. Artists featured on Spotify, led by Neil Young, began boycotting the streaming platform, demanding that Spotify take responsibility.
In response Spotify maintained its stance on free speech and announced that content advisories would be placed beneath podcast episodes that featured discussions of COVID. More recently, film director Ava DuVernay, who announced a podcast deal with the platform last year, has split ways with Spotify following the controversy.
While a few of Rogan’s more controversial episodes have been taken down, Ek still affirmed in a statement that “canceling voices is a slippery slope.”