Charlotte Street Partners



The people v. Spotify

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, senior associate 
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
31 January 2022

Good morning,

Who is Joe Rogan? Ask the millions of Spotify listeners who subscribe to his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and you still wouldn’t know for sure. Joe Rogan is as carelessly outrageous as your second aunt twice-removed’s Facebook posts. A Playboy playmates-themed episode of Fear Factor, the programme Rogan headed in the early days of reality TV, shot him to infamy. During the 2002 Superbowl half-time performance intended to commemorate the victims of 9/11, Rogan pried away 11 million viewers by—you guessed it—having contestants endure Playboy-themed ‘fear’ tests.
Rogan, relegated some time ago to the fringe of mainstream media, has become the centre of attention once again seemingly overnight. Early last week, Canadian rock veteran Neil Young objected to Spotify giving a platform to Rogan, who was accused of promoting misinformation about Covid vaccines. Young gave Spotify an ultimatum: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both”, according to a letter to his management team and record label.
But what could have possibly stirred Young now, given the vast menu of controversial conversations and guests Rogan has had on his podcast to choose from? The proof is in the pudding.
Earlier this month, Rogan hosted Dr Robert Malone on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience to discuss vaccine mandates. Dr Malone was previously banned from Twitter for spreading Covid misinformation, and the men were criticised for promoting conspiracy theories, encouraging listeners take the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to ‘cure’ Covid, and suggesting that hospitals were financially incentivised to falsely diagnose Covid-19 deaths.
Following this episode and Young’s ultimatum, the streaming giant chose the polemicist over the rocker, removing several items from the rocker’s page, which now features obscure singles and an album from 1989. Spotify didn’t need to justify its decision: the Joe Rogan Experience is the number one podcast on Spotify, which bought the rights for $100 million in 2020, and racks up an average of six million listeners per month. However, support for Young’s call for Spotify to do better has exploded in the past couple of days. Two-hundred-and-seventy scientist and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, and there was also an intervention from White House health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci. British musician James Blunt tweeted on Saturday, satirically threatening to release new music if Spotify didn’t immediately remove Joe Rogan from the platform. Joining Blunt, Joni Mitchell has also walked out on the streaming app, removing her music in protest. The latest celebrities on the boycott bandwagon are the duke and duchess of Sussex, who have aired their concerns privately with Spotify, with which they recently signed a multi-million pound podcast partnership.
Just yesterday, Spotify caved to pressure after it lost more than $2 billion in market value. Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek responded in an official statement that sets out the company’s plan to tackle the spread of misinformation on its site. The platform will now require a content advisorywarning to be added to every podcast episode that discusses coronavirus and directs listeners to a dedicated Covid-19 hub, a move akin to Instagram’s advisory banner.
Joe Rogan is a chameleon and a master of reinvention. What the future holds for him, only time will tell.   


Rafael Nadal has won the Australian Open final. It was the Spaniard’s 21stgrand slam title of his career, putting him one ahead of rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the race to finish with most men’s major singles titles. In a stunning final, Nadal came back from two sets down to defeat US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.
This week the UK government will introduce new legislation to allow Britain to crack down on banks, energy companies and oligarchs close to the Kremlin. Foreign secretary Liz Truss said these measures are aimed at deterring  the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, from launching an invasion of Ukraine.
The 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ – one of the defining days of the Northern Ireland conflict, when 14 unarmed protesters were killed by British soldiers in 1972 – was marked yesterday. Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney reiterated his government’s opposition to a proposal by the UK government to halt prosecutions of the soldiers and militants involved in the killings.

Business and economy

The UK government will finalise this week a package of measures that aim to support low-income households struggling with rising energy costs. The move comes as Boris Johnson braces for the release of Sue Gray’s investigation into Downing Street parties and seeks to avoid a vote of no-confidence in his leadership. (£)
Windfarms across the UK have reported generating a record amount of renewable electricity over the weekend, as Storm Malik battered Scotland and the north of England. On Saturday alone, wind turbines generated more than 50% of the national energy mix, rebounding after weeks of underperformance amid unseasonal winter weather.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, has approved the extradition to the US of British tech tycoon Mike Lynch, who is facing criminal fraud charges. In what has been described as the UK’s biggest civil fraud trial, Lynch is being sued by Hewlett-Packard over the allegedly fraudulent sale of his software company, Autonomy, in 2011.

Columns of note

If you think China’s backing of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a given, think again, says The Economist. Despite the apparent ideological similarities between the two countries, and a shared foreign enemy—the US—China has come a long way in its relationship with Russia since the days of Mao and Stalin. According to the publication, China and Russia are “aligned, but not alike”, with the biggest difference being that China’s economic development hinges on being tightly connected with the rest of the world. (£)
This week, The Observer takes on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s decision to pause the Scottish government’s proposed reform to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. A bit of background: the Scottish government has proposed moving to a system whereby people can change their sex for legal purposes through self-declaration, instead of needing a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The article explores the potentially damaging and exclusionary effects of the amendment to women’s sex-based rights, while arguing more complex and inclusive language is needed if real reform is to be made.


The week ahead

This week kicks off with a bit of homegrown good news as lockdown rules continue to ease across the UK. The guidance to work from home where possible and limits on visits to home cares are lifted today.
Russia will assume the presidency of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, despite continued tensions with other UN members over Ukraine. In Europe, the European Central Bank is expected to publish its Q4 euro area quarterly bank lending survey. Eurostat’s unemployment figures for the Eurozone are also expected.
Wednesday marks Groundhog Day for Americans. Meanwhile, market attention shifts to Italy’s monthly inflation data, the UK’s nationwide house price index and updates from Vodafone (Q3 trading), Banco Santander (full-year results), Ferrari (full-year results) and, last but not least, Facebook’s parent company Meta, which has been seeking new revenue sources following recent controversy.
Thursday will be a banner day for markets worldwide: expect the Bank of England’s interest rate decision, with the base rate expected to be raised despite last week’s data pointing to a slowdown in the economy. Meanwhile, the ECB meets in Frankfurt for its monetary policy meeting and voters in Southend West will vote in a by-election to choose a new MP, following David Amess’ tragic killing last October.
The week will wrap up spectacularly, with Chinese president Xi Jinping set to host Russian president Vladimir Putting in Beijing. A special mention goes to next Sunday, a celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee—the first British monarch to have reigned for 70 years.

What’s happening today?

Global Petroleum       
Star Phx Grp  
Final Dividend Payment Date
Smart (J) & Co           
Topps Tiles    
S & U 31.5%Pf           
Bp 9% 2Nd Prf           
Bp 8%Pf         
Lowland Inv.  
Final Results
React Group  
Logistics Dev

Interim Dividend Payment Date
Doric Nimrod  
European Assets Trust          
Albion Venture           
Amedeo Afp   
Ediston Prprty
Doric Nimrod 3           
Doric Nimrod 2           
Quarterly Dividend Payment Date
Bmo Comm Prop.      
Middlefield Prf
Trading Announcement
Intl Economic Announcement
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(07:00) GDP (Preliminary) (GER)
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(07:00) Nationwide House Price Index

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Johnny Weissmuller was surrounded by Cuban rebels during the 1959 revolution while on his way to play golf in Havana. The story goes that his trademark Tarzan yell persuaded them he wasn’t a rich Cuban (and probably saved his life).

(source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Education (including Topical Questions)
Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill: Consideration of Lords Amendment
Dormant Assets [HL]: Remaining Stages
NHS hysteroscopy treatment
Westminster Hall Debate
e-petition 593769, relating to funding for stalking advocates
e-petition 598732, relating to the future of the NHS

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Health and Care Bill – committee stage (day 7)
Short debate
Data Protection Act 2018 (Amendment of Schedule 2 Exemption) Regulations 2022 and the safeguards to protect individual data subject rights, and the Court of Appeal judgment in Open Rights Group and another v the Secretary of State for the Home Department
Subsidy Control Bill – committee stage (day 1)

Scottish parliament 

No business scheduled.

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