The last two weeks have been filled with stories about Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and other artists pulling their music from Spotify in protest of its carriage of the Joe Rogan podcast. While the political statements made by these actions generate the news, there are rights and royalty issues behind the story that are worth exploring. While Washington Post articles here and here touch on some of these issues, looking at them in more depth helps to explain the importance that Spotify places on podcasts and why it would be reluctant to pull a podcast that has so many listeners (reportedly over 10 million per episode), even if the podcast has content that may be objectionable. The issues raised by this controversy are also tied into two other stories that made the news for broadcasters this last week – Congressional hearings on the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act and on a potential sound recording performance royalty on over-the-air radio – topics we will cover in subsequent articles.
Let’s first look at the question of why Spotify, which started as a music service, has pushed so hard into podcasting. We will follow up with a discussion of the issues on the artist side of the equation in a second article. Spotify reportedly paid more than a hundred million dollars for the rights to the Rogan podcast. It has also invested heavily in other podcast companies – including buying podcast technology companies including Anchor and Megaphone, and podcast content aggregators including Gimlet and the Ringer. Deals with celebrities for their podcasts include those with former President Obama for his podcast with Bruce Springsteen, as well as an announced content creation deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Why would a music service spend so heavily to get into spoken word programming?
Continue Reading Spotify, Joe Rogan and Neil Young – Looking at the Rights and Royalty Issues Behind the Story (Part 1 – Why Spotify Has Been Promoting More Podcasts)