Spotify’s Daniel Ek Defends Keeping Joe Rogan as Stock Plummets

“There are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive,” Ek says

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended the company’s continuing use of Joe Rogan’s podcast in a heated employee town hall after the company reported weak quarterly earnings on Wednesday.

Spotify’s stock plummeted to a 21-month low after the earnings report, closing Wednesday at $191.92 a share before dropping as low as $149.95 in after-hours trading. In Wednesday’s call with investors after reporting earnings, Ek said that the company will not change its policies based on one creator or change it based on “any media cycle or call from anyone else.”

At the company’s staff town hall, which was leaked to The Verge, Ek spoke about the company being both a platform and publisher.

“There are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive,” Ek said, according to The Verge report. “If we want even a shot at achieving our bold ambitions, it will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with. Not anything goes, but there will be opinions, ideas, and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad.”

Elk’s comments come after Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and other artists began pulling their music and podcast catalogues from Spotify in protest of Rogan and others’ ”promoting lies and misinformation” about vaccinations. Young, in particular mentioned Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Employees were not happy with Ek’s message.

“Everyone’s a little upset, especially the people whose initiatives directly contradict what’s happening,” one anonymous staffer said. “People are feeling increasingly frustrated that no matter what the company says messaging-wise, or no matter what people’s initiatives are, it all kind of ladders up to, ‘What’s the best for Joe Rogan and Joe Rogan’s audience?’”

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, staffers asked whether the platform rules were sufficient if it failed to address the medical professionals’ COVID misinformation concerns detailed in an open letter recently.

Ek also responded to questions of diversity by saying Spotify ultimately needs to “go for an even broader set of exclusives that represent even more voices.”

Ultimately, Spotify began labeling all podcasts that contain any information regarding the pandemic, but has not found Rogan to have broken any rules. Spotify’s stock shot up in the days after the streamer announced the move to add new labels, which were part of an updated policy on COVID-19 discussions within its podcasts. But after Spotify’s earnings included lower growth expectations for the current quarter, the company’s stock plummeted more than 20% in after-hours trading.

The full transcript of Ek’s speech is posted on The Verge.