Spotify CEO doesn’t have ‘creative control’ over Joe Rogan – media

CEO Daniel Ek is cited saying the company is mainly a platform for creators and not a publisher with “editorial” oversight over their content

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek weathered heated pushback from employees for its stance on the high-profile Joe Rogan controversy during an internal town hall meeting on Wednesday, The Verge reported. Ek warned staffers that the company needed to have “content... that many of us may not be proud to be associated with” so as to realize its “bold ambitions.”

While not defending Rogan’s views, Ek reportedly argued that Spotify was primarily a platform for creators and not a publisher with “creative control” over licensed content like ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ (JRE) podcast. This means that it cannot edit episodes, “approve his guests in advance” or prevent Rogan from publishing, he apparently noted.

“Because we have an exclusive deal with him, it’s really easy to conclude we endorse every word he says and believe the opinions expressed by his guests. That’s absolutely not the case,” Ek said, adding that the company can still review published JRE content and take the “appropriate enforcement actions” if it “violates our policies.”

“There are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive.”

He pointed out Spotify had removed an unspecified “number” of JRE episodes for rules violations, noting that it was not a case of “anything goes.” But Ek cautioned employees that there would be “opinions, ideas, and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad.”

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The speech, audio of which was accessed by The Verge, apparently came after a week of employees venting frustration internally over why Spotify sided with the JRE over Neil Young. The move had prompted Young and other musicians and podcasters to pull their content off the platform, accusing Rogan of spreading “deadly misinformation” about Covid-19 vaccines.

According to The Verge, staffers criticized Ek’s position during the town hall, questioning whether Spotify’s content rules were strong enough and how the company could consider itself a platform while “actively promoting” JRE. Others reportedly claimed that an “ethical issue” was being framed “in pure business terms,” the outlet added.

Urging employees to “believe in our mission,” Ek responded by suggesting the solution might be to sign a “broader set of exclusives that represent even more voices.”

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