Spotify expects growth to slow as Joe Rogan row continues

Spotify has said it expects slower growth to start off 2022 – but that it believes it will still welcome three million new premium subscribers in the first financial quarter.

It comes amid ongoing controversy over coronavirus misinformation on the platform, with a number of performers pulling their content as a backlash over shows by podcast giant Joe Rogan continues.

Sharing its latest company figures, the streaming giant said it currently had 180 million paid subscribers and 406 million monthly active users at the end of 2021.

The number of paid subscribers had previously risen by eight million, from 172 million in Q3 of last year, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

But looking ahead Spotify said it expected slower growth to start off 2022, predicting the number of premium subscribers to rise to 183 million.

The company said the figures were “subject to substantial uncertainty”.

“Given the extraordinary operating circumstances we currently face with respect to the impact of Covid-19, there is a greater likelihood of variances with respect to such point estimates than in typical quarters,” a letter to shareholders stated.

The lower predictions come as the platform continues to face criticism for its handling of coronavirus misinformation from politicians, scientists and musicians alike, with some of the latter calling for their material to be pulled from the site.

The controversy centers around Spotify’s hosting of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which has been known to air vaccine-skeptical views and coronavirus ‘conspiracy theories’.

Prominent musicians including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have called out the streaming giant over its decision to continue hosting the popular podcast – reportedly acquired for more than 100 million dollars (£77 million ) in 2020.

In response, Rogan has said he will try to “balance out” the opinions expressed on his show and Spotify boss Daniel Ek issued a statement saying the platform was working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19 .

Despite this pledge, the White House has said “more can be done” by the company.

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