Podcaster Joe Rogan posted a video to Instagram late Sunday night to announce he will try to ‘balance things out’ amid criticism over Covid-related episodes that prompted artists to remove their hit songs from Spotify.
Rogan, 54, yesterday responded to accusations that his podcast was spreading ‘Covid misinformation’ from the likes of musician Neil Young, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, saying he was only seeking to have conversations on his podcast with people who have ‘differing opinions.’
The controversy came after recent episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast featured a highly regarded cardiologist and expert virologist, both of whom were critical of the way in which the pandemic has been handled in the US.
Spotify meanwhile said it plans to add an advisory content warning to any episodes concerning Covid.
The Joe Rogan Experience is Spotify’s highest-rated show, with each episode bringing over 10 million listeners.
It comes after Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removed their music from the streaming giant to protest over its spread of what described as ‘deadly misinformation about Covid’.
Spotify’s market value dropped more than $2 billion in the days following Young’s announcement, with shares have tumbling by around 12 per cent.
Rogan said: ‘It’s a strange responsibility to have this many viewers and listeners. It’s nothing that I’ve prepared for. I’m going to do my best to balance things out.’
‘I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them. I’m interested in telling the truth and finding out what the truth is.
‘I’m very sorry that [Neil Young and Joni Mitchell] feel that way. I most certainly don’t want that.’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also been in touch with Spotify to express their concerns the outlet could be spreading ‘pandemic-related misinformation’.
Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek (pictured) says the streaming giant is making changes in response to the criticism it has faced in recent weeks aimed at star podcaster Joe Rogan
The Joe Rogan Experience is Spotify’s highest-rated show, with each episode bringing over 10 million listeners
Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek yesterday laid out plans to introduce more transparent platform rules following Young’s statement.
But Ek also stressed the importance of free speech and providing a platform which shares differing ideas.
‘Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly,’ wrote Ek.
‘It is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.’
Ek said that the advisories will link to Spotify’s fact-based Covid-19 hub in what he described as a ‘new effort to combat misinformation.’
Rogan then released a video on Instagram on Sunday evening, expressing his take on the controversy.
‘I’m not trying to promote misinformation, I’m not trying to be controversial,’ Rogan said, before pointing out that many facts about Covid which are now widely accepted would have been seen as misinformation just months ago.
Rogan argued that vaccinated people can still carry and spread Covid – something which in the earlier days of the pandemic was widely thought not to be true.
He also said that he schedules the guests on his podcast himself, and that he would try to book doctors with different opinions right after he talks to ‘the controversial ones.’
‘I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than to just talk to people,’ he said.
Much of the controversy came off the back of two recent episodes of the podcast with American cardiologist Dr Peter McCullough and American virologist and immunologist Dr Robert Malone.
Both individuals, who are reputable experts in their fields, expressed views that were contrary to much of the Covid information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and mainstream media outlets.
Although Rogan promised to bring on a more varied and balanced range of guests, he also noted his podcast had hosted Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who is a member of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, and Dr. Peter Hotez from Baylor College of Medicine.
Rogan welcomed the idea of adding advisories before podcasts related to Covid-19, before thanking Spotify for its support.
Spotify acquired The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in 2020, reportedly for more than 100 million dollars (£77million).
Spotify shared its new ‘platform rules and approach’ Sunday, hours after it was revealed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were worried about pandemic-related misinformation shared via the outlet.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – who recently inked a $25 million deal with Spotify – said they have reached out to the music streaming giant to ‘express our concerns’ about Rogan’s podcast.
The couple shared their objections as Spotify faced an exodus of talent including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren.
Young after leaving the platform attempted to lure fans toward Amazon Music, offering a free four-month subscription to new users.
‘It’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time,’ Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek said in an online statement. ‘These issues are incredibly complex.’
The statement was released shortly after it was revealed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had ‘concerns’ over the misinformation being shared
Ek said his company is working to add a content advisory to all podcast episodes that discuss Covid.
‘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,’ he said.
‘This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.’
He said his team is also exploring ways to promote its platform rules so that content creators better understand the expectations.
‘We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike,’ Ek said.
‘That doesn’t mean that we always get it right, but we are committed to learning, growing and evolving.’
Spotify released a statement Sunday saying that while it doesn’t always ‘get it right, we are committed to learning, growing and evolving’
Despite their concerns, the Sussexes have not split with the firm, instead saying they were ‘committed to continuing our work together’ as it addressed their issues.
A spokesman for the Sussexes said: ‘Since the inception of [their non-profit organisation] Archewell, we have worked to address the real-time global misinformation crisis.
‘Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of mis- and disinformation every day.
‘Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of Covid misinformation on its platform.
‘We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis.
‘We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured at Citizen Live in Central Park in September) began ‘expressing concerns’ about Covid misinformation last April, a spokeswoman said
Spotify announced the partnership with the Sussexes’ Archewell Audio in December 2020 as they wanted to ‘elevate underrepresented voices’.
But aside from a 33-minute ‘holiday special’ that month there has been a deafening silence.
After the deal resulted in only one show being streamed, it is advertising for in-house staff to cover ‘every step’ of the process.
The latest move follows Harry and Meghan adding two more ‘entertainment’ companies to their growing business empire in Delaware.
The pair, who stepped back from royal duty last year, are setting up a complex network of companies all based in the opaque tax haven state.
Spotify had said it expected the first ‘complete series’ from Archewell Audio in 2021, but has since given no further updates.
In July, Archewell hired an experienced podcast producer, Rebecca Sananes, and confirmed it was ‘looking forward to sharing more content later in 2021’.
Now Spotify is hiring producers through its podcast arm, Gimlet, to work with Archewell Audio.
The jobs are being offered to applicants on six-month contracts based in Los Angeles.
One advert for a senior producer role read: ‘We’re currently assembling a show team that will build and launch a new original show with Archewell featuring the voices of high-profile women.
‘The ideal candidate has experience working with high-profile talent, and an interest in the intersection of social activism and popular culture.’
Prince Harry and Meghan’s logo for Archewell Audio, their new production company, which was launched in December 2020
You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone: Joni Mitchell has joined Neil Young in removing her music from Spotify in protest against their promotion of Joe Rogan’s vaccine-sceptic views
The singer, 78, said she was standing ‘in solidarity’ with Young (pictured) who this week demanded Spotify take down his songs
Spotify acquired The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in 2020, reportedly for more than 100 million dollars (£77million)
The announcements from Rogan and Spotify came days after Neil Young praised Spotify’s rival Amazon Music and offered his fans four months free on the streaming platform.
The musician said Amazon was ‘leading the pack’ in high quality audio production and encouraged fans to use the service to access his entire catalogue.
The streaming giant said it ‘regretted’ Young’s decision and hoped to welcome him back soon.
Young continued his crusade against Spotify on Friday, publishing an open letter on his personal website, which opened with the words: ‘When I left SPOTIFY, I felt better.’
The outspoken recording artist alleged that Spotify degrades the quality of sound by 95 per cent so it could carry more content.
‘AMAZON, APPLE MUSIC and Qobuz deliver up to 100% of the music today and it sounds a lot better than the s****y degraded and neutered sound of SPOTIFY,’ Young fumed. ‘If you support SPOTIFY, you are destroying an art form.’
Turning his attention to his row with Rogan over the podcaster’s negative views on Covid vaccination, Young wrote: ‘I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.’
In an open letter to his manager and record label telling them to have his catalogue taken down, the Heart of Gold singer wrote: ‘They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.’
‘I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.’
In response to Young’s ultimatum, Spotify has agreed to remove his songs from its platform, where the singer had 2.4 million followers and over six million monthly listeners.
‘We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators,’ the streaming company’s representative told Variety.
‘We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.’
It comes after Apple Music made a dig at Spotify by bragging that it was ‘the home of Neil Young’.
A day after Spotify announced that it will comply with Young’s demand to remove his records from the sharing platform, Apple Music tweeted on Thursday night: ‘The home of Neil Young. Listen to his entire catalog on Apple Music.’
The tweet featured a link offering access to Young’s ‘artist’ page on Apple Music’s website and a slideshow showcasing the prolific musician’s many album covers.
On Apple Music’s app, the streaming service went out of its way to tout Young’s playlists and albums under the banner ‘We Love Neil.’
Is Meghan set to relaunch her lifestyle blog The Tig? Duchess seeks to reactivate the trademark for her ‘passion project’
It was once filled with her favourite recipes, candid holiday snaps, inspirational words of wisdom and gushing eulogies to her parents.
When Meghan Markle closed down her lifestyle blog The Tig in April 2017 before announcing her engagement to Prince Harry later that year, she described it as a ‘passion project’ that ‘evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity’.
Now the Duchess of Sussex has applied to reactivate ‘The Tig’ trademark name – a move likely to raise hope among her fans that she might one day consider bringing her blog back to life.
Publicly available records in America show Los Angeles lawyer Marjorie Witter Norman filed a new application to trademark the name in July last year.
Meghan launched the blog in 2014 when she was an actress in the legal drama Suits and named the site after her favourite Tignanello wine.
Recalling her first sip, she wrote: ‘It was an ah-ha moment at its finest. For me it became a ‘Tig’ moment – a moment of getting it.’
When Meghan Markle closed down her lifestyle blog The Tig in April 2017 before announcing her engagement to Prince Harry later that year, she described it as a ‘passion project’ that ‘evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity’. Above, Meghan sips Tignanello, which led to The Tig
Now the Duchess of Sussex has applied to reactivate ‘The Tig’ trademark name – a move likely to raise hope among her fans that she might one day consider bringing her blog back to life
Miss Witter Norman filed the trademark application under a Delaware-based holding company called Frim Fram Inc, which links back to the Duchess’s business manager Andrew Meyer.
A similar application filed in 2019 would have expired last year.
At the time her representative said: ‘The lasting trademark is to prevent false branding, to avoid others purporting to be the Duchess or affiliated with her.’
Meghan used the original Tig website – parts of which can still be found online – to share her views on everything from feminism to her passion for philanthropy.
Meghan often praised her mother Doria Ragland (above, in 2018), a yoga therapist who was the only member of her family at her wedding, and father Thomas Markle, from whom she remains estranged
In an article entitled ‘The birthday suit’, she discussed body confidence with a photo of herself appearing to pose nude.
She often praised her mother Doria Ragland, a yoga therapist who was the only member of her family at her wedding, and father Thomas Markle, from whom she remains estranged.
An avid foodie, she also shared recipes and interviews with friends including tennis star Serena Williams and actress Priyanka Chopra.
Should she ever relaunch the blog – or start a new one – it could be worth a fortune through partnerships with fashion, food and beauty brands, according to a Hollywood marketing expert.