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Joe Rogan v. Spotify: Platformization and worlds colliding

Terje Colbjørnsen


In May 2020, the music streaming service Spotify acquired exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the world’s most popular podcasts. While the music streamer had started its foray into the podcasting world with acquisitions in 2019 of podcasting networks and production companies, the investment on Rogan was widely seen as a strong commitment. Rogan’s podcast is known to be humorous, crass, and often controversial. As the show dealt with highly contentious issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, criticism emerged, both from medical professionals, from artists and from within Spotify. The most widely published pushback came from artist Neil Young in January 2022, as he posed an ultimatum: ‘They can have Rogan or Young. Not both’. The Joe Rogan v. Spotify case can be seen as indicative of how the platformization of podcasting creates tensions and conflicts: Worlds collide as the logics of music publishing and news publishing crash with Rogan’s free reign podcasting world. As a result, Spotify, as a podcasting platform and publisher, finds itself in unfamiliar terrain. This paper connects the details of the case with theories of platformization, looking specifically at the role of Spotify as a comparatively new distributor of podcasts and a driving force to connect various audio formats. Drawing on media industry studies and scholarship on media policy and regulation, the paper ends with a discussion on how to understand the complexity of Spotify’s role as a publisher and a platform and Rogan’s role as a platform creator.

Colbjørnsen, T. (2024). Joe Rogan v. Spotify: Platformization and worlds colliding. Convergence, 0(0).