Joe Rogan row puts cost of Spotify podcasts under investor microscope


(Reuters) – Spotify buyers will deal with how a lot its ‘Netflix for audio’ technique is costing the streaming service when it experiences fourth-quarter outcomes on Wednesday in opposition to the backdrop of a number of offended high-profile artists withdrawing their tracks.

Over the previous 4 years, Spotify has spent greater than $1 billion on podcasts similar to Joe Rogan’s in an try to conquer rival music subscription providers from Apple and Amazon.

The resolution by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to drag their music from Spotify in protest over the views about COVID-19 in Rogan’s podcasts may enrich rivals and anger its listeners if others comply with of their footsteps.

Nevertheless, Wall Street analysts count on Spotify’s income and premium subscribers to continue to grow as promoting rebounds from a pandemic hunch and extra music streamers check out podcasts.

Quarterly income is anticipated to extend to 2.65 billion euros ($2.99 billion) from 2.50 billion euros, knowledge from Refinitiv reveals.

“We count on to listen to extra on monetization alternatives in podcasts together with plans in audiobooks as SPOT’s evolution from music utility to audio platform continues, offering a path in direction of margin growth,” UBS analysts wrote in a consumer observe.

Spotify’s shares, that are buying and selling at half the value they have been a yr in the past, misplaced 1 / 4 of their worth final month because of broader tech inventory sell-off and publicity over the Rogan row.

The inventory has risen 12% since Rogan apologized and Citigroup gave it a “purchase” score.


Podcasts have interaction customers for longer than music, giving extra alternatives to position adverts and likewise holding the viewers hooked. Rogan’s podcasts are normally a couple of hour lengthy and a few run to over three hours, with an estimated viewers of greater than 10 million listeners.

Spotify doesn’t escape the share of promoting generated by podcasts, though its chief govt Daniel Ek advised Reuters final quarter that progress was in triple digits.

But such projections might also be weighed down by the cost of moderating podcasts for misinformation or problematic content material.

The dispute over Rogan’s podcast provides stress for Spotify, which doesn’t disclose how a lot it spends on content material overview, to take a extra hands-on and clear strategy to moderation. This week it stated it could begin including content material advisories to episodes discussing COVID-19.

Science journalist and podcaster Wendy Zukerman stated on Monday that Spotify’s newly-published platform guidelines don’t go far sufficient to handle the issue and stated she would begin devoting her fact-checking present completely to contradicting misinformation unfold on Spotify.

Major tech corporations have more and more invested in human content material moderators in addition to synthetic intelligence lately. Podcasts have usually obtained much less scrutiny than social media websites on content material moderation, partly as a result of open nature of the podcasting ecosystem and challenges in moderating audio.

“Spotify is one piece and Joe Rogan is one podcaster and there is a very huge downside extra broadly on this area,” Valerie Wirtschafter, a senior knowledge analyst on the Brookings Institution, stated.

Spotify’s unique programming added a better accountability for it to construct higher moderation into its enterprise mannequin, some folks near the business say.

“To fall again on a tacky comic-book phrasing, with nice energy comes nice accountability,” Owen Grover, former CEO of podcast app Pocket Casts, stated.

($1 = 0.8876 euros)

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Kenneth Li and Alexander Smith)

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