Spotify and the Spread of Misinformation

Posted on 27th of January 2022 | 474 words

So Spotify seems to be a shit show at the moment, at least when sharing misinformation on their platform. At the centre of it all seems to be Joe Rogan. Spotify made a widely reported deal with Joe Rogan for exclusive rights to his podcast in 2020. Weirdly enough, Rogan has also lately been under heavy scrutiny for his idiotic statements about COVID.

In January 2022, 270 medical experts submitted an open letter for Spotify to moderate this misinformation on their platform. Letter was largely prompted because of a controversial physician who openly promoted preposterous nonsense on Joe Rogan Experience (JRE).

A few days ago, Neil Young started a protest against Spotify giving them an ultimatum for choosing either Young’s music or JRE. And well… neither Young nor 270 medical experts were enough to change Spotify’s mind about the subject since they decided that they would rather leave JRE on their platform rather than Young.

This is a weird point of view that Spotify has taken in this case since they have already participated in self-regulation before by removing harmful content from their platform. This kind of content has involved music connected one way or another to white supremacy or neo-nazi movements and much more (very much understandably so). Spotify also joined many other streaming platforms by removing another nutjob Alex Jones’ podcast InfoWars from their platform for spreading misinformation. But guess misinformation from dear Joe Rogan is not considered harmful by their standards.

Neil Young also wrote:

I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the SPOTIFY platform and stop supporting SPOTIFY’s deadly misinformation about COVID.

Unfortunately, while writing this, not many artists have joined him in this endeavour. But this also brings a little unfortunate truth about the situation, Neil Young can leave Spotify without noticing it too much. Financially, the revenue he gets from Spotify would be a very minor source of income, especially because last year, he sold 50% of his publishing rights to the investment fund Hipgnosis, netting him $150m.

Also, because his fan base is definitely - in general - on the older end of the spectrum. Yours truly is probably on the younger end. So most likely, a more significant portion of his revenue comes from physical products and live shows (although the latter is probably true for many artists).

Newer artists and bands can’t really take this kind of stand against large streaming platform since so much of their audience accesses their music via these means. In most cases, they would like to please Spotify, hoping to get in one of their playlists and so promoting their music to a vast audience.

In any case, if more big artists join Young, it definitely can impact Spotify since these kinds of heavyweight artists can pressure these big companies. But only time will tell.