Spotify’s New ‘Content Advisory’ Plan Solves Nothing


PodMov Daily: Monday, January 31

Episode 580: Your Monday Mix

Editor’s note: Today we have a deeper dive instead of two main stories. Onto the news.

Spotify’s New ‘Content Advisory’ Plan Solves Nothing

In response to snowballing dissent, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has announced a blanket fix that no one asked for: Adding a content advisory “to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19.” The company also published its “long-standing” rules, which prohibit narrow extremes just beyond what’s been said on The JRE.

This attempt to dodge responsibility only cushions Rogan, writes Adam Rosenberg of Mashable: “By flagging every single COVID-related podcast discussion with an advisory, Spotify is implicitly putting Rogan's proclivity for junk science on the same footing as any deeply researched, science-first podcast tackling the same topic.” 

Again, nothing will change. The rules are another distraction to pick through (As Ashley Carman points out, they “seemingly allow podcasters to say the vaccines cause death — just not that they are designed to cause death”). Moreover, they have yet to be widely translated. How long have they been in place across Spotify’s 184 markets?

For podcasters, the content advisory plan raises more practical questions. Does one mention of COVID constitute a ‘discussion’? Two? Three? Does Spotify plan to transcribe all of these episodes in order to screen them? Will new episodes be labeled prior to publication? Is an international rollout realistic “in the coming days”?

These questions are important, but they draw attention away from the core issue: Spotify pays Joe Rogan — not other sources of misinformation — millions to produce exclusive content. Much more will go down before the company’s Q4 earnings call on Wednesday. We hope to be your noise-canceling headphones through it all.

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Here's what else is going on:

  • Logo lingo: This Wednesday at 4:00 pm ET is “Podcasts as a Tool for Brand Engagement” from Podcasting, Seriously. The organization’s weekly Twitter Spaces talk will feature Vennly CEO Brian Landau, the host of The Drip, on building brand awareness. No Twitter account needed.
  • Shoot straight: Most podcast guest pitches are terrible, says Jay Clouse (Creative Elements). The host and producer insists on a clear, confident explanation of value. “If you know my show, you should be able to form one specific, compelling angle for you as a guest. Not a list of potential topics.”
  • Mint condition: “Better Now Than Never: Safeguarding Your Audio Collection” is coming up on February 8. Audio preservationist Jessica Thompson and The Kitchen Sisters will cover best practices, digitization standards, and resources for podcast producers and small institutions. Free RSVP.
  • Access denied: Ask about “off limits” topics before the interview, writes George “Ace” Acevedo. While restrictions are common for celebrity appearances, small podcasts owe their guests the same courtesy. “Unless your show is based on confrontation, what’s the point of antagonizing someone?”

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