Spotify Brings More Questions than Answers

Having to Transfer Playlists, Podcasts, and Other Popular Media from Spotify Causes Headaches

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So much controversy with Spotify…is it really a problem?

Mason Barish, Opinion & Editorial Editor

What’s Going on with Spotify?

For quite some time, Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, has been in hot water and under intense scrutiny. The range of the problems that people have with the platform seems to grow by the day. With artists withdrawing from the platform and complaints growing, so too have corporate losses, with the company having a staggering 12% stock drop in the first month of the year. To most, it seems like much of this controversy came out of the blue. 

So, what exactly is going on with Spotify, and how do I feel about it? This game me an opportunity to outline the developing story around Spotify’s ‘fall from grace’ in the eyes of the public. 

In late January, artist Neil Young, a singer with around 6 million monthly listeners on the platform, spoke out publicly against Spotify’s promotion and partnership with podcaster Joe Rogan. Young argued that Spotify’s deal to host Rogan’s podcast (recorded to be a 100 million dollar deal) was directly endorsing the COVID-19 vaccine misinformation that was allegedly spread on Rogan’s podcast. Other artists joined Young’s side, and they gave Spotify an ultimatum to either choose between keeping their music or Rogan’s podcast on the platform.

Spotify took action and chose to side with the podcaster. On the business side of things, it was probably the most logical response as the Joe Rogan podcast is far and away the most popular podcast in the world raking in over 11 million listeners on average per episode. 

Of course, this act has been questioned ethically for reasons mentioned above, as Rogan has been under fire for spreading vaccine misinformation through either comments of his own or the comments of guests he has on his show. Advocates against Rogan’s podcast argue that the guests on the show are often underqualified for the claims they make, whether medically or scientifically. 

This recent controversy led to a heightened interest in another area in which Spotify is in trouble: payment. While Spotify is not the only music platform to underpay artists, it is the largest. There has always been criticism for Spotify’s model of compensation of musicians, given that it takes 315 streams for an artist to make a dollar. In my opinion, the amount artists are paid is woefully low, and criticism of the system for that reason is entirely valid and justified.

However, where all of this comes to a head is if it will affect my (and others’) use of the platform. Despite how selfish it may sound, I will continue to use the platform. I find it to be all too much of a hassle to transfer my playlists across platforms and services, and Spotify’s benefits to me outweigh the downsides it poses to artists. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean I believe Spotify is off the hook, the amount they compensate the artists that make their platform popular is frankly pitiful and should change. I’m nothing if not one-hundred percent behind Spotify raising their payment from the fraction of a fraction of a cent that they pay artists now.

As for the Joe Rogan problem, I wholeheartedly believe that removing Rogan from the platform would not change the number of listeners he has because of his devoted fan base. This is coming from someone who knows people that listen to the podcast, and while I’m not a fan myself, their listening is nothing short of religious. Spotify chose to keep one of its most valuable assets business-wise, and it’s something I can’t fault them for. If the people that listen to vaccine misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast choose to do so, I can’t stop them, and nor can anyone else.

I realize that my view may sound apathetic and/or crass, but I don’t see myself needing to take on personal responsibility for what other people choose to believe in or listen to, and while I do think the claims of misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast have some merit, Spotify made a business call to keep him under their umbrella of promoted media, which is a call that hasn’t affected me at all. So far, only time will tell of the full outcome of that decision.