Joe Rogan - the king of podcasts...and controversy

Who is Joe Rogan?
Joe became known thanks to 'Fear Factor'
A psychedelic adventurer?
The Joe Rogan Experience
The most popular podcaster in the US
Podcasts are taking over radio
A ground-breaking deal
Exclusivity in podcasting was unheard of
Risky business
More fans
Rogan is Spotify's cash cow
Millions of advertising dollars to be made
Other famous podcasters on Spotify
71% male listeners
Dedicated fans
Does Joe Rogan understand the average man better?
Long episodes without editing
Adding fuel to conspiracy theories
A platform to spread misinformation
A study found that Rogan promotes bigotry
Medical professionals campaign against Joe Rogan
Neil Young left Spotify over Rogan
Spotify is feeling the heat
India Arie pulled her music from Spotify
CEO Daniel Ek speaks
Platform rules
A letter to Spotify staff upset over Rogan's words
Should podcasters be regulated?
11 million listeners =a lot of influence
Will Joe rein it in?
Who is Joe Rogan?

Famed podcaster Joe Rogan has been all over the news lately; however, for many, prior to the Spotify "scandal," he was an unknown. So, who is Joe Rogan, and why are celebrities like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and even Dwayne Johnson so upset with him?

Joe became known thanks to 'Fear Factor'

Joe got his start in Hollywood with reality TV and was once the host of the reality show 'Fear Factor.'

A psychedelic adventurer?

If you visit joerogan.com, Rogan describes himself as a "stand up comic, mixed martial arts fanatic, psychedelic adventurer, host of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast."

The Joe Rogan Experience

It is 'The Joe Rogan Experience' podcast that really made this man famous, garnering him millions of fans throughout North America.

The most popular podcaster in the US

With an estimated 200 million downloads each month, Rogan has become the most popular podcaster in the United States.

Podcasts are taking over radio

Many podcasters credit Joe Rogan for helping to make the medium of the podcast popular with the general public, whereas before we tuned into the radio, we now tune into our favorite podcasts.

A ground-breaking deal

In 2020, Rogan signed a US$100 million deal with the streaming platform Spotify for the exclusive rights to his podcast, and the industry immediately took notice.

Exclusivity in podcasting was unheard of

Before Rogan and Spotify joined forces, podcasts were everywhere, and much of their appeal was that their hosts were not "owned," so to speak, by anyone - exclusivity in podcasting was unheard of.

Risky business

This historical deal between Spotify and Joe Rogan was undoubtedly a risk for both parties. But perhaps more so for Rogan, who could have potentially lost fans by signing with the audio empire for "selling out." 

More fans

However, the numbers were convincing, and according to a study by The Verge, Rogan actually gained fans when he made an exclusive podcasting deal.

Photo: Screenshot YouTube

"Spotify values Rogan more than any musician..."

In May of 2020, Ted Gioia, a music journalist, wrote on BBC News that "Spotify values Rogan more than any musician in the history of the world."

Rogan is Spotify's cash cow

The reason is very simple: "A musician would need to generate 23 billion streams on Spotify to earn what they're paying Joe Rogan for his podcast rights."

Millions of advertising dollars to be made

Podcasting is quickly taking over the domain of radio, and there are millions of advertising dollars to be made in spoken-word audio.

Photo: Screenshot, YouTube

Other famous podcasters on Spotify

Rogan is by no means the only podcaster raking in the big bucks on Spotify - Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are also hosting hit podcasts on the platform.

71% male listeners

However, Spotify is running into controversy over Joe Rogan's podcast in large part due to the type of listener he attracts. According to Media Monitors, 71% of Joe Rogan's listeners are "male and evenly split between high school and post-secondary graduates."

Photo: Facebook -Joe Rogan Experience Fans Page

Dedicated fans

Media Monitors also reports that "57% of his audience reports earning over $50k per year, with 19% making over $100k", with an average age of 24." Rogan fans tend to be middle-class, young men who are very dedicated to him; some even get Joe's face tattoed on their bodies.

Photo: Instagram@joerogan

Does Joe Rogan understand the average man better?

It seems that gender may be at the heart of Rogan's appeal, The Atlantic wrote, "[Rogan] understands men in America better than most people do. The rest of the country should start paying attention."

Photo: screenshot YouTube

Long episodes without editing

Joe Rogan fans love his rawness, and his episodes are long (2-3 hours) with practically no editing at all. He states his mind and what he feels in the moment freely, which fans can't get enough of.

Photo: screenshot YouTube

Adding fuel to conspiracy theories

The problem is that more often than not, Rogan makes claims which can cause damage, in particular when his listeners believe everything he says. Joe Rogan has added fuel to appalling conspiracy theories and disinformation.

Photo: Instagram@joerogan

A platform to spread misinformation

In addition, he gave Alex Jones, a disgraced radio host, a platform to spread misinformation on his show. Jones appeared on Rogan's podcast and claimed the Sandy Hook massacre did not happen.

Photo: screenshot YouTube

A study found that Rogan promotes bigotry

Media Matters studied the 'Joe Rogan Experience' for one year and found that Rogan promotes bigotry and misinformation regularly.

Photo: screenshot YouTube

"right-wing misinformation"

The author of the Media Matters report wrote that Rogan frequently shared "right-wing misinformation and bigotry," "anti-trans rhetoric," and "COVID-19 misinformation."

Medical professionals campaign against Joe Rogan

A group of medical professionals started a campaign against the misinformation regarding Covid-19 that Rogan has shared on his podcast.

Neil Young left Spotify over Rogan

This prompted musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to insist that their label remove their work from Spotify.

Spotify is feeling the heat

Earlier this year concern grew and pressure  increased on Spotify. Singer India.Arie shared a compilation video that showed Joe Rogan using a racial slur many times in older episodes of his show.

India Arie pulled her music from Spotify

Arie has also removed her music from Spotify in protest over Rogan's use of "language around race." Following Arie's release of the video featuring Rogan, Spotify quietly removed at least 70 episodes of Joe Rogan's podcast.

CEO Daniel Ek speaks

The New York Times reported that CEO Daniel Ek said he "strongly" condemns Joe Rogan's use of the N-word and other derogatory comments toward Black people but remains firm in his decision to keep the podcaster on the platform in order to "[elevate] all types of creators."

Platform rules

This backlash has also resulted in Spotify finally releasing "platform rules"; however, they are extremely generalized and in no way affect the freedom of content creators such as Joe Rogan.

A letter to Spotify staff upset over Rogan's words

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ek wrote a letter to Spotify staff regarding Rogan's racial slurs, which the publication obtained a copy of.

"canceling voices is a slippery slope."

The Hollywood Reporter shared that Ek wrote to staff, "I want to make one point very clear — I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope."

Should podcasters be regulated?

So the question now is: should podcasters be regulated? And if the answer is yes, who should do it, and what should the criteria be? Joe Rogan claims he is just a comedian goofing around and sharing his conversations with listeners.

11 million listeners =a lot of influence

However, it is not that simple - with 11 million listeners, Rogan's words are heard by masses of easily influenceable fans. In a video on his Instagram account in response to the latest Spotify controversy, Joe Rogan claimed he is "not interested in only talking to people that have one perspective."

Will Joe rein it in?

That is understandable; however, with such a large platform, certainly Joe Rogan needs to be more responsible regarding the subjects he chooses to discuss and with whom he chooses to discuss them. And if he fails to do so, Spotify may have to take action...they can only brush off his behaviour for so long.

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