As the controversy surrounding Spotify and its platforming of Joe Rogan continues, a new study has found that 19% of users have either cancelled their subscription or plan to in the near future as a result.
In recent weeks, the platform has attracted backlash for hosting Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, which has been available to stream exclusively on Spotify since December 2020, following a licensing deal between the two parties worth an estimated $100 million.
In January, an open letter signed by hundreds of health care professionals requested Spotify address misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, specifically referencing Rogan’s podcast. They singled out an episode featuring physician Robert Malone, who has promoted misinformation regarding the safety of vaccines throughout the pandemic. In the episode, Rogan commented that he believed young, healthy people did not need to get vaccinated.
Since then, several high-profile musicians have taken their catalogues off Spotify for continuing to platform Rogan, including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Nils Lofgren, India Arie and Failure. In response, Spotify’s Daniel Ek commented that they would not be cutting ties with Rogan, but would be adding content advisories to podcast episodes that discuss COVID-19, directing listeners to the platform’s dedicated COVID-19 hub.
Now, a study conducted earlier this month of 657 Spotify users by Forrester Research found 19% of users polled had either already cancelled their service or plan to in the near future. 54% of users had no intention of cancelling their subscription, and 18.5% said they would consider cancelling if more artists pulled their catalogues. 8.5% said they considered cancelling but that Spotify’s features were too important to them.
However, it’s worth questioning how much of that number will actually follow through. As Variety points out, Forrester conducted their own survey last September that found only 32% of respondents would actually through with boycotting a brand. “Consumer boycotts build quickly, but they lose steam fast,” Forrester analysts Mike Proulx and Kelsey Chickering wrote when detailing the Spotify poll results, acknowledging that though “cancel culture is loud, for most brands, it’s just noise.”
It’s also worth acknowledging the relatively small sample size, given that as of December 2021, the platform had 180 million paying subscribers.
It remains to be seen just how much of a hit Spotify will take as a result of standing by Rogan. Last week, Ek said it was “too early to know” the impact of the controversy, after a reported $6.7 billion loss in market value and the company’s stock falling by 13% when reporting fourth-quarter earnings.
“Usually when we’ve had controversies in the past, those are measured in months, not days,” Ek told Spotify’s investors during its the company’s earnings call. “We don’t change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change based on any media cycle or calls from anyone else.”
Meanwhile, Spotify has quietly pulled dozens of episodes of Rogan’s podcast from their platform, but not for spreading misinformation. The platform has removed some 70 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience after a video emerged compiling instances Rogan had used the n-word on the podcast.