Spotify’s deal to acquire exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience was worth at least $200 million, double what was previously reported.
Spotify spent more on the return of Joe Rogan in May 2020 than buying entire companies like Gimlet Media and The Ringer, according to two people familiar with the deal, according to the New York Times.
As Rogan faces controversy over alleged misinformation about COVID-19 and repeated use of the n-word, Spotify is addressing the damage and has pledged $100 million for the work of creators “from a historically marginalized group.”
The move comes after Spotify host Jemele Hill, a former ESPN commentator, said the streaming service’s protection of Rogan created problems with her audience on the platform.
“I would like them to give $100 million to someone black,” Hill said.
Spotify’s deal to secure exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience was worth at least $200 million, according to two people familiar with the 2020 deal.
Spotify paid more for the show than for entire companies as the streaming service sought to stave off competition from Apple and Google.
Emmy Award-winning journalist Jemele Hill said Rogan’s defense of Spotify is hurting her audience on the platform. Spotify pledges to spend $100 million on works by ‘marginalized groups’
Hill, the Emmy Award-winning host of “Unbothered,” is the latest Spotify content creator to criticize the company for supporting Rogan.
Earlier this month, filmmaker Ava DuVernay busted her tires with Spotify as she was about to release a podcast with the company.
Artists such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and David Crosby have also removed their music from the streaming service due to anti-vaccination comments made on Rogan’s show in December.
However, despite the backlash, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told staff that exclusive content like Rogan’s show is “vital ammo” in Spotify’s competition with Apple and Google, so he won’t be fired, the Times reported.
Although Spotify was primarily known for its music streaming services, in 2018 the company began to switch to podcasts, buying smaller companies to gain access to the growing market.
Gaining the Joe Rogan experience was a key part of their plan due to Rogan’s popularity and free, uncensored conversations with celebrities and people of interest.
When Spotify put on the show, the company’s stock jumped 17 percent that week.
The company’s value has grown since acquiring The Rogan Show and moving into podcasting, with the company reporting $10.9 billion in profits as of the end of 2021.
Spotify and The Joe Rogen Experience did not immediately respond to ‘s request for comment.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told staff that exclusive content like Rogan’s show is “vital ammo” for the company to maintain its podcasting dominance.
Music legends Neil Young and Joni Mitchell were among the singers whose music was removed from Spotify in protest of comments made by Rogan on his show.
Although Rogan has previously acknowledged that he has not been vaccinated and has expressed doubts about the vaccine on his show in the past, he received widespread backlash after bringing in anti-vaccine doctors Robert Malone and Peter McCullough in December.
Both men have made conflicting statements about the show, which has 11 million viewers every episode.
Malone, who is one of the pioneers of mRNA-based vaccines, said the official COVID data cannot be trusted because hospitals get bonuses if patients have the virus and that the government “went out of control” and covered up the data.
McCullough, deputy chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, said the pandemic was deliberately planned and that vaccines are killing thousands.
By January 10, more than 250 doctors had signed an open letter from Spotify titled: “Calling the global scientific and medical community to pursue a policy of disinformation.”
“By allowing false and harmful claims to spread, Spotify is allowing its hosted media to undermine public trust in scientific research and raise doubts about the validity of evidence-based recommendations offered by medical professionals,” they said.
They note that Rogan’s average listener was 24 years old, and his vaccine skepticism was dangerous: unvaccinated people between the ages of 12 and 34 are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Robert Malone appeared on Rogan’s podcast Dec. 31, talking for three hours about the government’s alleged work to manipulate the pandemic.
India Ahri has shared resurfaced clips of Spotify’s main podcaster Joe Rogan repeatedly using the N-word after deleting his discography from the popular streaming platform.
Rogan then apologized for the interview and promised to bring in more “versatile” experts to discuss vaccines and the state of the pandemic.
“If I pissed you off, I’m sorry,” he said in a 10-minute apology video posted to his Instagram account.
“I am not trying to spread misinformation. I’m not trying to argue.”
The podcaster then issued another apology when R&B singer India Ari posted a compilation video every time Rogan said the “n” word on his show.
“I said this if [I was talking about] something like Richard Pryor or something like that, I would say in context,” Rogan said.
“Someone made a compilation of all the times I’ve said that word in 14 years and posted it on YouTube and it turned out to be fucking racist.” Even me! I am me, and I look at it and I say, “Stop saying that!” I hover over the video and say, “Four more minutes?!
“There is nothing I can do to get it back. I would like. Obviously this is not possible. I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist, and I certainly would never want to offend anyone for the sake of entertainment with something as stupid as racism.”
Subsequently, Spotify removed numerous episodes of Rogan’s podcast from their site, including those that contained variable language.