The company reported that it had gained 180 million paid subscribers and 406 million monthly active users by the end of 2021. The reports indicate that the user base of the company is increasing, but it’s unclear if that will continue as scrutiny falls on the music streamer for allowing Joe Rogan to continue on the platform amid criticism that it isn't doing enough to combat misinformation, particularly about the pandemic, on the platform.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 2021 numbers fall well within expectations for the quarter. Advertising revenue reportedly grew by roughly $445 million, up 40 percent year-over-year while total revenue hit about $3.04 billion as it continues to invest in exclusive deals, particularly with podcasters like Rogan. The outlet reports that, in a letter to shareholders released Wednesday, Spotify noted that its podcast library grew to 3.6 million in Q4, up from 3.2 million at the end of Q3.
Joe Rogan went exclusive with Spotify in 2020 in a deal that could net the podcaster roughly $100 million. However, as artists like Neil Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren and India Arie pull their music from the platform, speculation is mounting that it could hurt the company’s bottom line. However, THR reports that CEO Daniel Ek said during the company’s earnings call that it was "too early to know" what impact the backlash will have on the company’s subscriber base and revenue stream.
Fox Business previously reported that questions about the Rogan controversy were the first to come up during Wednesday’s call.
"You've clearly changed your public stance given artist pushback to [Joe Rogan's] content," the individual told Ek, asking, "Is it a slippery slope censoring content on the platform, and have any advertisers left Spotify?"
Ek acknowledged that the issue was "top of mind this week" but called it "very complicated."
"I think the important part here is that we don't change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change it based on any media cycle," the chief executive said. "Our policies have been carefully written with the input from numbers of internal and external experts in this space – and I do believe they're right for our platform."
He added, "While Joe has a massive audience and is actually the number one podcast in more than 90 markets, he also has to abide by those policies."