Spotify said monthly active users rose 18% to 404 million for the fourth quarter of 2021 as premium subscribers hit 183 million and revenue grew 24%. It reported numbers as controversy swirls around Joe Rogan.
Founder and CEO Daniel Ek will host a call at 4:30 ET to talk numbers and address if he wishes the flurry of defections by artists protesting Covid-19 vaccine misinformation by the host of The Joe Rogan Experience. The movement started last week as Neil Young pulled his music off the service. He was joined by Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash and Nils Lofgren, India.Arie and most recently Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Ek and Rogan both addressed the issue over the weekend. The chief executive said he didn’t want Spotify in the role of censor but would add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19 directing listeners to a dedicated hub with resource and links to information about the virus.
Rogan said he was sorry for landing his employer in a fix and that he’d try to represent more point of view. “I would like to talk to some people who have differing opinions on the podcasts in the future. I do all the scheduling myself and I don’t always get it right.”
Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s Archwell released a statement of concern over Covid-19 misinformation on Spotify, without mentioning Rogan. The pair have a deal with the company worth a reported $25 million to make podcasts.
Rogan himself has a reported $100 million deal to license his podcast to the streamer. That makes Spotify more responsibly for the content he airs than if it was widely distributed, according to some.
Last month, 270 medical professionals wrote an open letter to the streaming giant asking it to take action against Rogan’s podcast, accusing the company of broadcasting misinformation
Wall Street is mostly concerned with the business backlash. The dustup pummeled Spotify shares – erasing $2 billion in value at one point. It’s gained back ground early this week on bullish reports by analysts who believe the controversy will blow over.