The global shift towards ‘on demand’ music and radio increases with every passing month and even here in SA, BrandMapp tells us that about 60% of middle-class-and-up adults now listen to podcasts. As for platforms, one in five (20%) subscribe to Spotify which saw its local listener base double in size during the lockdowns of the past two years. All good so far. But now enter stage right the most popular podcaster in the world, a man who’s Spotify deal was worth $100 million and who averages around 11 million downloads per episode: Joe Rogan.
Over the years, his views, guests and opinions about politics, history, Covid and life in general have become increasingly extreme and his lean towards right-wing propaganda increasingly obvious, so much so that a month ago, a group of 270 top medical professionals signed a petition begging the company to stop him spreading anti-vax conspiracy theories. Spotify did absolutely nothing: they make their own rules and do what they want like any good tech disruptor. But now it seems Spotify might be facing a different challenge: music legend Neil Young has demanded his songs are removed from the platform. ‘They can have Rogan or Young. Not both’, he’s quoted as saying. Our question is: is this the moment of truth when true ‘self-regulation’ comes to the fore? Put differently, how many Billies, Drakes, Biebers and Swifts do you reckon have to follow suit before Spotify gags its golden goose?