Spotify may have to contend with more than musicians leaving its platform. Author and researcher Brené Brown has paused releases of her Spotify-exclusive podcasts Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead "until further notice." Brown didn't explain the decision, but it came shortly after Neil Young and Joni Mitchell said they would remove their music from Spotify in protest against allegations Joe Rogan has been promoting COVID-19 misinformation.
We've asked Spotify for comment. The move came amid mounting criticism of Spotify over its handling of Rogan and misinformation, with the UK's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle (who themselves have a Spotify deal) voicing "concerns" over the streaming service's approach. The couple's Archewell foundation said "hundreds of millions" of people were hurt by misinformation each day, and that they hoped Spotify would "meet this moment" and make appropriate changes. The pair added they had been sharing worries with Spotify since April 2021.
Spotify previously said it aimed to strike a balance between listener safety and creator freedom, having removed over 20,000 COVID-related podcast episodes in line with its policies. CEO Daniel Ek has contended Spotify shouldn't have editorial responsibility for podcasts.
If Brown's move is in response to Rogan, it could put Spotify in an even more difficult position. The company is believed to have paid over $100 million to sign Rogan to a multi-year exclusive and has enjoyed his success (his podcast still tops US charts). However, that arrangement might prove costly if enough listeners leave — particularly those who were staying for exclusive podcasts like Brown's. It might not be worth sticking to one star if Spotify ultimately bleeds too much talent and cash.