The Real Joe Rogan Controversy That Makes Spotify Ripe for Disruption

Podcaster Joe Rogan was taken to task recently by fellow celebrities like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell for spreading COVID disinformation, such as encouraging off-label use of ivermectin (ordinarily an animal dewormer), and interviewing vaccine conspiracy theorists, like the discredited Dr. Robert Malone.

Image of a person pressing a button on a laptop and a holographic projection of a music player appearing to represent streaming stocks
Source: Shutterstock

But for many artists, the real problem is that Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) keeps Rogan on its platform with a $100 million deal – while they make pennies…if anything.

“Spotify generally pays between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream,” reports Business Insider. So, even if your music makes it into the top 1% and gets 1 million streams, Spotify might only pay out $4,000 – to the record label, not directly to you!

“This is not a culture war issue for most artists, it’s a material one,” says Max Collins of rock band Eve 6 in the above tweet thread. “I cannot feed my kids with ‘Spotify exposure.’”

“Joe Rogan is making as much as $100 million on Spotify while artists have to get 350 plays to make a dollar?” notes bestselling writer Alexander Chee. “I’d leave just over that.”

The big contributing factor here is: Rogan is not only a podcaster averaging 11 million listeners an episode. He’s been sort of a free-range celebrity ever since his days hosting Fear Factor on NBC – while musical acts are often at the mercy of the distribution deal they may have signed at age 19.

Luckily, today’s emerging musical artists have another option: Skip signing those exploitative record contracts. Launch a career on Web3 platforms, where creators – as well as users and investors – can easily, directly own their data, right on the blockchain.

Gen Z being natives to the influencer economy, it’s a natural step to Web3 apps like Audius (CCC:AUDIO-USD).

Audius is a decentralized streaming platform, the “Soundcloud of the blockchain.” It leapt into the spotlight in August, after Audius was selected for Tik Tok. Rather than paying a company like TuneCore to publish their music on the video app, unsigned artists can do it through Audius by tapping “Share to Tik Tok.”

In the past year, Audius adoption has surged from about 500,000 to 7 million monthly listeners, as of CEO Roneil Rumburg’s appearance last week on Untold Stories, the podcast by Charlie Shrem of Ultimate Crypto.

The Audius app is free – yet it feels just like streaming as a paid subscriber to Spotify or Apple Music…except that you can earn crypto!

Audius music streaming platform
Source: Audius

If you upload a track or create a playlist that trends on the platform, you’ll be rewarded with the native token, AUDIO, worth roughly $1 if you exchange it on Coinbase. Even if you’re just streaming in your browser, Audius will automatically create an encrypted wallet for you.

AUDIO crypto gives you governance rights – and investors can stake the tokens to earn ~22% annually! The price has moved back alongside other cryptos, and AUDIO remains a favorite of Luke Lango in the Ultimate Crypto portfolio, where it returned 145% in just two weeks on the Tik Tok deal!

Katy Perry, Jason Derulo, and The Chainsmokers are some of the highest profile investors in Audius.

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Disclosure, and Steve Aoki not only invested – they’re also among the top artists on the platform. Audius is especially popular among DJs, as copyright law can make “derivative content” (like remixes) tricky to publish and claim otherwise.

Around 250,000 artists have already turned to Audius, where it’s easy not just to produce the music with Audacity or GarageBand – but then to “own the means of distribution,” with “a direct channel and the opportunity to build a relationship with fans” themselves, Rumburg said on the podcast with Charlie Shrem.

Because Audius is on the blockchain, governed and run by its own users, creators, and investors, it’s also an open community for creating new features.

Developers can write a smart contract on the Solana (CCC:SOL-USD) blockchain, which hosts Audius with blazing fast network speeds, and set certain conditions – like a podcast specifically for users on an airplane, Rumburg says. The content would be more relevant to your situation…and sponsor messages could be, too. If I’m going to get ads, at least they could be for a better eye mask or lighter luggage, like the old days of flipping through SkyMall on a flight!

Any improvements that Audius fans want to see, they can actually get together and make it happen. The community owns their own data, can easily access it on the blockchain, and holds Audius accountable for financial practices.

None of this is possible on a centralized platform like Spotify. And it’s why Audius “needed to be decentralized from Day 1, to be able to fulfill the value proposition,” Rumburg says.

As one of the Solana-based apps now available on Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN), AUDIO stands to attract tons more investors – along with artists looking for the freedom to collaborate, distribute, and control their own career.

Next up could be a decentralized YouTube! Selah Marley (daughter of Lauryn Hill and granddaughter of Bob Marley) is among the artists dropping music videos not through a label – but as NFTs on the decentralized video platform Glass. It’s a whole New Digital World out there, where these Web3 platforms are helping put power back where it belongs: with us.

On the date of publication, Ashley Cassell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

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