The Hustle

Was Joe Rogan’s Spotify deal worth it? It depends on what you value.

Joe Rogan, who signed a deal with Spotify worth $100m+, has lost influence since making his podcast exclusive to the platform.

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

In May 2020, Joe Rogan signed a $100m+ licensing deal with Spotify giving the streaming platform exclusive access to his podcast.

Spotify’s market cap jumped by ~$4B within a day of the announcement. On paper, the deal looked like a win-win.

A new report from The Verge suggests Spotify got the better end of the deal.

Since going exclusive, Rogan has lost influence

Spotify hasn’t revealed Rogan’s listenership numbers, so the report looked at a variety of secondary metrics before and after the signing, including:

Rogan isn’t the 1st big name to lose influence after going exclusive

When the deal was announced, Andrew Wilkinson of Tiny compared the move to Howard Stern’s deal with Sirius, arguing that Rogan got ripped off.

Citing Stern’s waning cultural influence, he questioned whether Rogan’s payout was worth the trade-offs of going exclusive. Specifically:

  1. Losing a direct relationship with subscribers
  2. Building Spotify’s recurring revenue instead of his own
  3. Serving a smaller audience and having less impact

Who needs influence when you can get the bag?

Seeing the downsides of exclusivity firsthand will likely influence up-and-coming podcasters facing similar decisions.

Alex Cooper of Call Her Daddy and Dax Shepard of Armchair Expert both signed exclusive deals with Spotify recently — will others be so fast to follow suit?

In Rogan’s case, it’s hard to argue with a $100m+ payday, but there’s still a good chance he sold himself short.

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