TL;DR: Spotify has inked a fresh multi-year partnership with Joe Rogan, the podcaster whose blockbuster show will soon expand its reach to other platforms like YouTube and Apple Podcasts. The deal is a gamble for Spotify, as it risks alienating some of its users and advertisers who disagree with Rogan’s views and content. But the platform seems confident that Rogan’s loyal fan base and massive reach will pay off.
“The Joe Rogan Experience” has been exclusive to Spotify since 2020 under a lucrative multimillion-dollar deal. But the new contract is even more eye-popping, with the Wall Street Journal estimating it could be worth as much as $250 million over its multi-year term.
The WSJ report says that the agreement includes a hefty upfront guarantee for Rogan as well as a revenue-sharing model based on ad sales. It allows Spotify to handle ad distribution for the wildly popular podcast while broadening its availability to competing platforms.
The prospect of Rogan’s loyal fanbase generating more streams and ad dollars for the Swedish audio platform drove Spotify’s stock up around 2% on Friday.
Rogan himself took to Spotify’s blog to celebrate the partnership renewal. “The conversations have changed the way I think about life immeasurably,” he gushed, highlighting the freeform, long-form nature of the interviews as “a kind of mental nourishment.”
The Joe Rogan Experience has over 2,200 episodes so far, covering an eclectic range of guests from comedians to conspiracy theorists. And while it’s consistently been a top draw for Spotify, it’s also courted major controversy along the way.
Most notably, pressure mounted in 2022 for the platform to drop Rogan over his anti-vaccine stance which produced claims ranging from mRNA vaccines being a form of “gene therapy” and that healthy young people simply don’t need Covid-19 vaccines. Artists like Neil Young pulled their music in protest, but Spotify stood firm, simply adding “content advisories” to flagged episodes.
Around the same time, people dug up older episodes where Rogan was recorded using racial slurs in various contexts. Spotify chose to scrub these archival instalments off the platform.
Even so, his most talked-about interviews continue to pull in millions of monthly listeners despite the periodic firestorms. It seems Spotify is willing to weather backlash to keep Rogan’s massive yet divisive platform in their stable.