Sunday, September 24, 2023

Spotify was still growing despite the boycotts of Joe Rogan and the shutdown of Russia

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Spotify has managed to grow despite a high-profile uprising over controversial podcaster Joe Rogan’s support and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The streaming giant released an update today financial results for the first quarter of 2022, showing that it grew to 422 million monthly users. 182 million of those pay for Premium, with its range of exclusive podcasts a major draw and one that Spotify is constantly investing in. The company added that three million of that total user figure may have been added as a result of a login problem, but even taking that into account, the growth was still above expectations.

In early 2022, Spotify doubled the support of Rogan who regularly interviews fringe and far-right figures on his show. That included Dr. Robert Malone, who claims to have invented the mRNA technology used to make COVID-19 vaccines, makes a claim widely disproved by the people who actually did it† Malone’s episode sparked a complaint from 270 healthcare professionals asking Spotify to do more to fight vaccine misinformation. Then came the likes of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who pulled their music from the service, and Brené Brown who paused her podcast in protest of Spotify’s refusal to remove misinformation. The service said it wouldn’t drop Rogan, but eventually said it would add a content advisory label to episodes containing repeated misinformation.

Not long after, Spotify announced that it would completely cease its services in Russia and close its offices in the area, in protest of the invasion of Ukraine. Although Spotify was reportedly the second largest platform in Russia, it was not a major contributor to the company’s revenue. In the documents, Spotify says it believes it has lost 1.5 million free users and another 600,000 who paid for Premium as a result of cutting off the country. It added that those losses were more than offset by strong user growth in Latin America and Europe.

The company also reported meager profits of €14 million, despite the huge sums spent buying both Chartable and Podsights, and (allegedly) throwing more than $300 million at FC Barcelona for the naming rights to the famous stadium, Camp Nou.

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