Spotify reportedly paid Joe Rogan at least $200 million to commit to podcasting on the platform exclusively for three and a half years, according to a New York Times report. That number, while astronomical, is double what had previously been reported in The Wall Street Journal as Rogan’s deal price — $100 million — and has continued to be used widely in the media without correction from Spotify’s team.
This news comes after a volatile month for the audio company and one in which musicians, podcasters, employees, and the medical community scrutinized the company’s work with the controversial podcaster. In January, a group of medical community members penned a letter to the company asking it to remove a Rogan episode they said peddled COVID-19 misinformation. Musician Neil Young read that letter and subsequently pulled his catalog from the platform in response.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” he wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Since then, inside Spotify, CEO Daniel Ek issued multiple statements about his reluctance to moderate Rogan’s show beyond its platform rules, which were only made public after Young and others pulled their music.
However, Rogan’s show then became controversial for reasons beyond COVID-19. In a separate viral video, Rogan is documented using the n-word multiple times. After that video surfaced, 70 episodes were mysteriously removed with no reason provided. Rogan later apologized for using the slur and also making a racist joke, but Spotify never commented publicly. In a leaked memo, however, Ek confirmed that the company did talk to Rogan and his team, and Rogan decided to remove the episodes. Ek also said the company would commit $100 million to creators from historically marginalized groups. As Verge contributing editor Casey Newton points out on Twitter, that amount seemed to be equal to what Spotify paid Rogan — but now, it looks to be only half as much.