It seems that Neil Young vs Joe Rogan is the most bizarre cultural clash. The protest by the 76-year old rock star over the coronavirus-related content of Rogan’s Spotify podcast has sparked a heated debate about misinformation and freedom speech. This is despite the fact that Spotify has become the main way that millions of people experience music around the globe. Are you “Rockin’ in a Free World?” Spotify is not the right place. It’s not possible. Here’s how it works.
Young is upset
After dozens of scientists and doctors wrote an open letter complaining to Spotify about Rogan’s decision not to host a podcast conversation with Dr. Robert Malone (an infectious disease specialist banned from Twitter due to spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19), Malone protested. Malone is a hero among the anti-vaccination community.
Young claimed that Spotify was complicit in misinformation spreading. He told the company that Spotify could have Rogan’s music or Young’s podcast. “Not both.” Spotify agreed to remove Young’s music.
Is there a protest?
Slowly. Joni Mitchell stated that she was standing in solidarity with her and asked for her music not to be played. Nils Lofgren (a guitarist who plays with Bruce Springsteen and Crazy Horse) also spoke out. Brene Brown, a podcaster, also stated that she stopped listening to new podcasts but didn’t say why.
According to multiple reports Tuesday, Graham Nash, Young’s ex-bandmate in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, stated Tuesday that he wants his solo music pulled. India.arie stated on Instagram that Neil Young had opened a door for her, although she also expressed concern about Rogan’s comments on race. Belly posted the message “Delete Spotify” on its Spotify page. However, you can still stream their music. It’s not easy to get music from Spotify. Often, it is the record company that controls the market, and not the artist. According to Midia Research, it had 31% of 524 million global music streaming subscriptions in quarter two of 2021. This is more than twice the number of Apple Music. Many musicians complain that Spotify doesn’t pay enough for their work. This is why Spotify isn’t always popular.
Mark Mulligan, Midia Research’s cultural analyst, says that Spotify is a great source of cultural capital. “And that’s what could be at risk if more artists tried to push their followers to other places.”
Although Young and Mitchell’s deaths may seem like a blow to the psychic, it would be more important if another artist took up the cause. Spotify’s top 10 most-streamed artists are all from the past century. Eminem may be the exception.
These artists and Spotify would be much worse off if they took a stand similar to Young’s.
Rogan is better than Young.
Spotify’s biggest source of revenue is music, but Rogan is its future.
Spotify paid over $100 million to license Rogan’s podcast, which is its most popular. He is the core of Spotify’s strategy to be an audio company, not just a music business. Mulligan states that Spotify has more control over podcasts’ potential revenue than it does music in the long-term.
According to eMarketer, the Swedish company wants to be the most popular podcasting platform. It has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in podcast companies like Anchor and Gimlet since 2019, and signed top hosts such as Rogan and Dax Shepard to become the platform’s biggest listener.
Popular podcasters, especially the more outspoken, will likely be closely watching the protest to see if Spotify will uphold the right to free speech.
Spotify is attempting to silence protestors.
The company stated that it would add a warning to all podcasts discussing COVID-19. This will direct listeners to facts about the pandemic, as well as expert information from scientists and public health professionals. Rogan was not mentioned.
Spotify has been more transparent than ever in recent days about how it handles questionable content. The new policy is a good start, according to John Wihbey of Northeastern University, a professor and specialist on emerging technologies.
Wihbey states that it is not clear that anyone has successfully dealt with misinformation being spread via podcasts. Rogan’s listeners will actually be able to hear an advisory and then search for other COVID information.
He says, “This could just be window dressing.”
Rogan spoke out publicly late Sunday night, saying that he was sorry for his critics’ feelings and that he didn’t intend to cause any upset or spread misinformation. Rogan said he enjoys having conversations with people from different perspectives and that some of the things that were once misinformation, such as cloth masks not being effective at protecting against COVID are now accepted.
He said that he could do better at having people disagree with controversial opinions like Malone’s faster, so his listeners can hear the other perspective.
According to Colin Stutz (news director at Billboard magazine), Spotify’s calculus can be changed if protests snowball. He said, “I think they just ride it out and hope it goes away.”
Rogan needs to listen to more music.
Probably. In a video posted to Instagram, he spoke about his love for Mitchell’s music. He said, “Chuck E’s In Love’ is a great track.”
Whoops. It was Rickie Lee Jones.
Rogan is to be commended for quickly correcting himself via Twitter.