Spotify released its quarterly earnings today during a particularly fraught time for the company. Its star podcaster, Joe Rogan, spurred multiple musicians to pull their discographies from the platform over his show’s spreading of misinformation; Spotify-employed podcasters themselves spoke out, and even the White House responded.
CEO Daniel Ek fielded questions about the backlash to having Rogan on the platform and stood by the company’s decision to host, distribute, and monetize the show. He instead tried to reframe the discussion as one of free speech and making Spotify a platform that can help all audio creators make a living, regardless of their opinions.
“We’re trying to balance creative expression with the safety of our users, and of course, this is a very complicated issue,” he said. He also added that it was too early to know whether Rogan-spurred cancellations would represent a substantial problem.
He then pointed to the company’s promise to roll out a COVID-19 disclaimer on any podcast episode that discusses the virus, as well as its public rollout of its content moderation policies as things he feels “really good about.”
“I do believe they’re right for our platform,” he says, adding that although Rogan is the top podcaster in 90 markets on its platform, the company has “something for everyone,” including all advertisers, which is becoming a bigger part of the company’s bottom line.
Monthly active users grew by 18 percent year over year to 406 million, while paying subscribers reached 180 million. Advertising represented 15 percent of Spotify’s revenue last quarter, which Ek says is encouraging the team to experiment with content windowing, rather than whole exclusives, in an effort to reach a broader audience.
Spotify hopes to reach 50 million creators, he says, who will make money through the platform. It’ll also continue to invest in tools, resources, and services to cater to them.
“We want to be the best place for audio creators,” he said. “We’ve only scratched the surface of the creative potential in audio.”