Spotify Reaches 180 Million Subscribers Amid Joe Rogan, Neil Young Controversy

by Amy Myers
(Photo Illustration by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Spotify has released its fourth-quarter statistics from 2021 as more and more artists pull their music and podcasts from the streaming platform.

Spotify announced that the platform saw 180 million paid subscribers and 406 million total monthly active users by the quarter’s end on December 21, 2021. These numbers were within the company’s expectations of 177-181 million paying subscribers and 400-407 million monthly active users. Meanwhile, advertising for the Stockholm-based company grew from €394 million (roughly $445 million) to €2.69 billion (roughly $3.04 billion) in Q4.

The company certainly experienced some positive growth by the end of last year. However, Spotify could see a dip in this trend due to the Neil Young-Joe Rogan controversy. Last week, Young stated he would be pulling his music from the platform. This was in response to some misinformation spread on Rogan’s podcast regarding Covid. The music icon claimed that he “could not continue to support Spotify’s life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.” 

While the controversy may affect Spotify’s amount of paying subscribers in the current quarter, for now, it is “too early to know,” according to CEO Daniel Ek. Surely, with the many artists and podcast creators that have pulled their content, listeners have followed suit. However, the CEO has expressed his faith in Spotify’s diverse library and many advertisers to make up for this deficit.

“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in that, and of course we’re hearing from our partners. But Spotify has a broad range of content on our platform, so there really is something for everyone here and for advertisers to take to as well,” Ek said on the call with The Hollywood Reporter.

White House Responds to Spotify Debate

Following Neil Young’s initial comments, the musical artist called on Spotify to take action against the spread of misinformation. In response, Ek stated that the company would be adding a content advisory to podcasts that discuss Covid-related topics.

Now, White House officials have commented on Spotify’s progress and the involved artists’ stance. And so far, they don’t seem too satisfied with the company’s response.

“This disclaimer… it’s a positive step. But we want every platform to be doing more to be calling out mis- and dis-information, while also uplifting accurate information,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the press. “Ultimately, our view is that it is a positive step, but there is more that can be done.”

Psaki also pointed to the potentially larger issue at hand – one that involves giant tech platforms at large.

“Our hope is that all major tech platforms, and all major news sources for that matter, be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19,” she continued.