Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Responds to Joe Rogan Podcast Controversy

Amidst all the recent Spotify controversy over the last week or so, CEO and founder Daniel Ek has defended the service's decisions in regards to Joe Rogan's podcast.

Neil Young just about initiated a movement last week when he demanded Spotify remove either his music catalog or Rogan's podcast, which the singer-songwriter argued is spreading questionable information related to vaccines. Spotify pulled Young's music from their library as a result, and several other musicians have since followed in the musician's footsteps — Joni Mitchell, Failure and Young's own former bandmates, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash among them.

In response to the increasing number of creators requesting their content be taken off the platform, Ek spoke about the company's policies during an earnings call, according to a report by the New York Times.

“I think the important part here is that we don’t change our policies based on one creator nor do we change it based on any media cycle, or calls from anyone else,” Ek said. "Our policies have been carefully written with the input from numbers of internal and external experts in this space. And I do believe they’re right for our platform. And while Joe has a massive audience — he is actually the number one podcast in more than 90 markets — he also has to abide by those policies.”

The CEO further added that it's too early to tell how the streaming service will be financially affected by the removal of the aforementioned artists.

“Usually when we’ve had controversies in the past, those are measured in months and not days," he stated. "But I feel good about where we are in relation to that and obviously top line trends look very healthy still."

“Obviously, it’s been a few notable days here at Spotify,” he added. "There’s no doubt that the last several weeks have presented a number of learning opportunities.”

Several days ago, Spotify announced its plans to add a "content advisory" warning to podcasts that touch on COVID-19 and related topics. The warning would, in turn, direct listeners to Spotify's own COVID-19 Guide, which consists of data-driven resources related to the virus.

"Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly," Ek wrote on Spotify's For the Record blog on Jan. 30. "We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users. In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.

"Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time."

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