As the podcaster Joe Rogan is embroiled in controversy over his disrespectful language and choice to peddle misinformation about the coronavirus, the huge deal he received from Spotify is larger than many thought. And so is the headache the platform now has.
In an article from the New York Times, it appears that the sum that the comedian and sports commentator received from Spotify was higher than many outlets stated in their reporting. The deal, which saw the streaming service acquire exclusive licensing to host Rogan’s show in May 2020, was then valued at $100 million dollars for a period of three and a half years. According to confidential sources who were privy to the full information of the deal since they worked on the negotiations, the actual value of the deal is estimated at more than $200 million. The news highlights the intricate details of Spotify’s aggressive venture into showcasing podcasting as a premier part of their services by bringing Rogan in.
The reporting illuminates how that move has seen Spotify benefit greatly as part of a strategy epitomized by their statement that “audio – not just music – would be the future of Spotify”. That strategy saw them acquire companies that created tools for podcasters and start-ups in that field to lay a groundwork for more content to be available on the platform, and they have created new programs in partnership with director Ava DuVernay and Higher Ground, the production company of former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Spotify zeroed in on Rogan primarily because of his independent perspective that brought in millions of listeners who heard him discuss various subjects from sports to politics to pop culture with a swath of guests who ranged from Senator Bernie Sanders to dubious figures such as Alex Jones. But as the show began its stint on Spotify, Rogan showed no signs of changing his stances and it’s led to infamous situations.
One situation that has dogged Rogan and Spotify is the podcaster’s insistence on spreading Covid misinformation, which has led rock legend Neil Young to demand his music be pulled from the service. Recently, R&B artist India Arie has made the same request, this time citing Rogan’s history of racist behavior throughout his podcasts. Calling Rogan “consciously racist”, the singer shared a video of clips of him using the N-word and referring to a Black neighborhood as The Planet Of The Apes.