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Spotify vows to combat Covid misinformation after top artists quit platform

Swedish music streaming giant Spotify has responded to criticism after artists including Neil Young pulled their songs from the platform in protest at misinformation.

Spotify vows to combat Covid misinformation after top artists quit platform
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

The artists, also including Joni Mitchell, last week demanded that Spotify remove their music or drop podcaster Joe Rogan after a call from medical professionals to prevent Rogan from promoting “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also flagged concerns over misinformation on Spotify, but reiterated their commitment to continue using it to publish their content.

“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement.

“This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated Covid-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”

In addition, Ek said the company would publish its “Platform Rules”, which include guidelines for creators on what Spotify labels “dangerous” and “deceptive” content.

The “new effort to combat misinformation” would roll out in the next few days, he added.

Rogan, 54, has discouraged vaccination in young people and promoted the off-label use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to treat the virus.

$100 million deal

The podcaster, who has a $100 million multi-year exclusive deal with Spotify, was kept on, and the company complied with Young’s demand and started removing his catalogue of songs.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, meanwhile, said they were “committed to continuing” their lucrative content deal despite “concerns” over misinformation.

“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis,” a spokesperson for Archewell, the Duke and Duchess’ organisation, said in a statement.

“We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”

In a video posted on his Instagram account, Rogan expressed disappointment that Young and Mitchell had pulled their music from Spotify, and sought to explain why his podcast had come under fire.

He cited two episodes in particular, during which he interviewed a cardiologist, and a virologist who had worked on mRNA technology, the same method used to make several Covid-19 vaccines.

“They have an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is,” Rogan said.

Rather than spreading misinformation, Rogan insisted he was “interested in telling the truth, I’m interested in finding out what the truth is, and I’m interested in having interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions”.

He also praised Spotify’s decision to add a content advisory to coronavirus-related episodes of any podcast.

‘Regret’

Spotify voiced “regret” over Young’s move but cited a need to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators”.

Spotify’s move drew applause online from organisations including video-streaming platform Rumble, which credited the Swedish company with “defending creators” and standing “up for free speech”.

But Young, 76, also garnered wide praise for taking a stand, including from the World Health Organization chief. The musician also urged fellow artists to follow his lead, and calls for boycotts and cancelled subscriptions flourished on social media.

In recent years, online media titans including Facebook and YouTube have come under fire for allowing conspiracy theorists to spread their views. But despite its explosive growth, podcasting has largely flown under the radar.

Article by AFP’s Johannes Ledel

Member comments

  1. Im very happy that Spotify didnt silence the opinion of world renowned medical experts because two old washed up rock stars from the 1960’s said soo.

    I bet Blackstone are upset right now, being that they bought half of Youngs catalogue only last year for 150M USD and now will loose a massive amount of royalities.

    ‘Keep on rockin in the free world’ …..yeah right!

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BUSINESS

Swedish company Spotify aims for a billion users by 2030

Audio streaming platform Spotify said on Wednesday it aims to have one billion users by 2030, as well as an annual revenue of $100 billion within ten years.

Swedish company Spotify aims for a billion users by 2030

Co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek, speaking at an investor day event in New York, said the ambitious goal could be achieved in part through an expansion of Spotify’s portfolio of podcasts and audiobooks, while making the platform a one-stop shop for content creators.

“As the world’s creator platform, we will provide the infrastructure and resources that will enable 50 million artists and creators to grow and manage their own businesses, monetize their work, and effectively promote it,” said Ek.

The Sweden-based, New York-listed company reported 9.6 billion euros ($10.9 billion) in revenue for 2021, meaning it would need a nearly tenfold increase to hit the mark set out on Wednesday by Ek.

It also had 422 million users at the end of the first quarter of 2022, making it by far the world’s most frequented audio platform.

While in recent quarters the company’s gross margin (revenue minus costs directly related to its work) has hovered at around 26 percent, Ek said his goal was to reach 40 percent, also within ten years.

Spotify is also aiming for an operating margin (sales minus all costs before interest and taxes) of 20 percent, a figure implying the company would have become clearly profitable, which is not the case today.

In recent quarters, the online audio platform — now present in 183 countries and territories — has fluctuated between a modestly positive and slightly negative operating margin.

Spotify has invested more than $1 billion in acquiring notable podcasters as well as building a fully integrated podcast platform, from production to advertising management, to make it the world leader in the sector.

Last year, Spotify also bought the major audio book producer and distributor Findaway.

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