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Joe Rogan apologizes for Spotify backlash, Joni Mitchell leaves platform

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Yahoo Finance's Julie Hyman and Brian Sozzi discuss Joe Rogan's response to the Spotify backlash after three artists, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, leave the music streaming platform in protest over COVID-19 misinformation.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

BRIAN SOZZI: In response to mounting criticism from artists like Neil Young and even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Spotify said it's adding a content advisory to any podcast that includes discussion about COVID-19. Spotify podcaster Joe Rogan, in a new 10-minute Instagram post, defended his decision to book controversial guests, apologized to Spotify for the backlash, and detailed how the podcast may change going forward. Take a listen.

JOE ROGAN: Neil Young has removed his music from the platform of Spotify, and Joni Mitchell and apparently some other people want to as well. I'm very sorry that they feel that way. I most certainly don't want that.

I'm a Neil Young fan. I've always been a Neil Young fan. And I'll tell you a story at the end of this about that.

One of the things that Spotify wants to do that I agree with is that at the beginning of these controversial podcasts-- like, specifically ones about COVID-- is to put a disclaimer.

BRIAN SOZZI: Julia, so we're seeing Spotify shares rally back a bit on news of this. But is this really an apology by Rogan?

JULIE HYMAN: It doesn't feel like entirely. I mean, he sort of said, I'm sorry this is happening to Spotify also, which I thought was quite interesting, you know, that they've had to deal with this. The other thing that Spotify itself did was make public its misinformation policy, something that other sort of social media companies have done long ago, or at least released details of those policies.

Now, when you look at the stock action today, Soz, it seems to me it has a lot more to do with the fact that Spotify has fallen 48% over the past year going into today than it does with anything necessarily to do with Joe Rogan. Listen, we don't even know-- what we do know is that Spotify pays Joe Rogan a deal whose total value is $100 million. What he is worth to the platform, we don't really have any idea, do we?

BRIAN SOZZI: No, it's not something that Spotify--

JOE ROGAN: Like, in dollars and cents. We don't know how many people sign up for Spotify because of Joe Rogan.

BRIAN SOZZI: They have not disclosed that. But, as an investor, I think if you're an investor in Spotify, this is something you should want to know about, especially with all these headlines and Spotify being in the news. And a good note, just quickly, by Steven Cahill over at Wells Fargo, saying that Rogan sounds like he's searching for a heart of gold, but he's getting old, so I think [? Cahill, ?] who covers media and covers Spotify for Wells Fargo, being critical of Rogan here.

But the real question, too, Julie, is when Spotify reports earnings soon, have they lost subscribers? And, if they did lose subscribers quarter over quarter, what part of that was caused by any controversy related to Rogan? And then, going further, is that something they now have to bake into their guidance? I suspect all these questions will still last after the earnings call. But, nonetheless, these are things I think investors want to start hearing about from this company.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah. I mean, I think, again, if you look at the reaction and performance of the stock over the last year, they've got bigger issues here than Joe Rogan in terms of their ability to hold on to and monetize subscribers, in terms of their cost outlays as well on things like podcasts. So I'm really curious to see what these numbers are gonna look like when they come in.

One other note I would make on a separate front, not having to do with Spotify directly, these various artists who are pulling off of Spotify and then signing deals elsewhere, it is fairly astonishing to me that the likes of Neil Young is signing a deal with Amazon, for example, that, you know, in other words, Amazon frequently gets criticized on a number of different fronts, right? Here's Neil Young partnering with them. Sirius XM, which has channels that carry lots of talk shows that probably he would find as questionable as Joe Rogan, he is also still partnering with them.

So, you know, it's just very interesting when you see these artists take moral stands, which is certainly in their right to do. But I don't know where the last refuge is in corporate America for a musician who wants a place where they're gonna be completely morally clean, so to speak. I don't know how else to put it.

BRIAN SOZZI: I think you--

JOE ROGAN: I don't know what the answer is to that puzzle.

BRIAN SOZZI: Perfectly worded, Julie. And I'll just quickly add, too, I know Prince Harry spoke out. Again, he [INAUDIBLE] be nice if he actually created some content for Spotify after inking a $30 million deal.