Spotify CEO tells employees that Joe Rogan is necessary for the streamer to achieve its 'bold ambitions' and 'find leverage' over competitors, report says
SpotifyCEO Daniel Ekdefended Joe Rogan's podcast in a town-hall recording obtained by The Verge.
- In the 15-minute speech to employees, Ek said Rogan was crucial to the brand's "bold ambitions."
In a 15-minute speech at a company town hall on Wednesday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended the company's decision to continue airing Joe Rogan's controversial podcast, according to a leaked audio recording obtained by The Verge.
"If we want even a shot at achieving our bold ambitions, it will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with," Ek said, according to The Verge. "Not anything goes, but there will be opinions, ideas, and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad."
The podcast has come under scrutiny for promoting COVID-19 misinformation, which has led the artists Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to remove their music from the streamer in protest.
Spotify did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The CEO said Spotify's $100 million exclusivity deal with Rogan — whose show is the top podcast in the US — has allowed the streamer to differentiate itself from competitors.
"Another important point for you to know is that in 2019, our music and podcasting catalog was not that differentiated, and because of this, we were locked out of deals with some critical hardware partners like Amazon, Google, and even Tesla," Ek added.
"To combat this, we needed to find leverage. And one way we could do this was in the form of exclusives, specifically with voices like Joe Rogan's, the Obamas, Brené Brown, Dax Shepard, just to name a few," he said.
But this exclusivity does not equal endorsement, Ek said, adding that there were "many things" Rogan said on his podcast that he personally found "very offensive." The CEO also said Spotify was both a publisher and a platform and emphasized that the streamer did not have "creative control" over Rogan's show or any other licensed content.
"I want to remind everyone of our mission. We want to get to 50 million creators and a billion users," Ek said. "And to be a true platform and achieve this ambition, it's really critical that creators are able to use their voice independently. And it's also critical that we have diverse voices on our platform.
"We're not in the business of dictating the discourse that these creators want to have on their shows."
The full transcript of Ek's Spotify town hall was first published by The Verge's Ashley Carman.
Ek's emphasis on the podcasting arm of Spotify reflects the company's $1 billion investment in the audio space, including the acquisitions of Gimlet
Belly, an alt-rock band at the forefront of the #deleteSpotify movement, told Insider the streamer's aggressive investment in podcasters like Rogan flew in the face of its meager payments to musicians.
Are you an employee at Spotify? Got a tip? Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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