Jemele Hill is pressuring Spotify to pay a black podcaster Joe Rogan money.
“What I would like to see,” Hill said in an interview with the New York Times, “is for to hand $100 million to somebody who is black.”
(Note: In the same report, the Times revealed Spotify will pay Rogan $200 million over three and a half years -- not $100 million, as previously reported. Hill was unaware of this number.)
Hill's demand exemplifies the problem with a racially-obsessed worldview. Hill cries racism whenever there is a successful white person who does not have a black counterpart. However, the top individual in any field, whether white or black, almost never has an equivalent. They're at the top precisely because they don't have an equal.
No white person can command as much money on morning television as Robin Roberts, there is no black radio host equal to Howard Stern, and no white athlete is worth as much to Nike as LeBron James is. And in podcasting, Joe Rogan is one of one.
Podcasting is more of a meritocracy than morning television, radio or even the NBA. Podcast hosts are not a part of a television or radio lineup, so they cannot inherit a base audience that already watches or listens to a channel, no matter the host.
This is why podcasters often make a percentage of the revenue that their show generates. For example, a podcaster might earn 50 percent of his show's revenue, while the distributor -- say, Westwood One -- takes the other half.
A podcaster's worth is easily measurable: find the annual profit and agree to a revenue split. In Rogan's case, Spotify calculated that Rogan was worth around $57 million a year because of:
JRE is the most popular podcast in the country. Rogan's value is singular, not indicative of the broader podcast market.
The vast majority of podcasts draw minimal revenue, including Jemele Hill's. Look at the charts: she never ranks in the top 200. Hardly anyone knows Jemele Hill has more than a Twitter account.
Hill's podcast may generate -- let's pick a number -- $500,000 a year. Thus, if Spotify were to pay her $100 million over three years to prove it's not racist, it would lose about $98.5 million.
Put simply, there is not currently a black podcaster who is worth Joe Rogan money. Nor is there another white podcaster worth what Rogan is worth. If there were, Spotify would gladly cough up the money and add this other industry-shifting host to its lineup. The revenue that this other podcaster would generate would be worth it.
It would be business malpractice to pay a host, black or white, equal to Rogan. Yet Spotify might do it anyway. The price to protect an organization from baseless claims of racism is high. Perhaps it's worth nine figures?
Hill's challenge is absurd. It's not enlightening, it's extortion. She's threatening her own employer that if it doesn't overpay a black podcaster immediately, she will try to burn the company to the ground with accusations of racism. She's coming. Watch out.
Jemele Hill hopes that she can frighten her employer into drastically overpaying her for a podcast no one wants to hear.