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Joe Rogan’s podcast rose to the top of the industry because it touched on topics the country wanted to hear but that few outlets had the courage to discuss. Rogan became one of the most influential talents in media by listening to no one, by operating without fear. Couple the two, it’s a $100 million business that Spotify grabbed in a licensing deal last summer.
JRE listeners feared the move would tone down the podcast, that Rogan — who before was solely independent — would be censored and told “no.” Early on, those critics felt vindicated. Spotify employees threatened to strike if they couldn’t block Rogan’s “controversial” episodes and have removed 42 episodes and counting from availability. JRE fans are not happy, tweeting that he is a “sellout.” Rogan, meanwhile, does not share their concerns.
Rogan opened up about his relationship with Spotify in a recent episode with Anthony Cumia, saying Spotify says nothing to him and is an “amazing partner.”
“I’m never involved in meetings. I don’t have any conversations with advertisers. I have no conversations with suits, ” Rogan tells Cumia starting at the 16:00 mark. “Spotify has never said a goddamn thing to me. They’re amazing.
“They don’t say shit. I even tested it when I brought Alex Jones. I was like, ‘Let’s see, you guys talk a lot of shit. Let’s see.'”
What Rogan described to Cumia is essentially an ad-sales partnership, which is how Rogan explained the deal a year ago. Rogan still owns the show. In the licensing deal, Spotify sells the ads and airs the library exclusively.
Spotify may be removing episodes, which is concerning, but listeners probably can’t detect any changes in Rogan’s on-air content or recent guests. He’s the same Joe Rogan he was pre-Spotify. Meaning, I believe him. It does not appear Spotify is messing with Rogan’s present-day content or vision. Why Spotify is going back and visiting old episodes, though, is unclear.
The length of Rogan’s contract with Spotify has not been disclosed. Since the fall, listeners have predicted he would not re-sign or remain with the service long-term. I’m not so sure about that. I’d bet the opposite.