India.Arie wants to leave Spotify but albums remain on the service

India.Arie has asked to remove her songs from Spotify and joins a growing number of musicians to rebel against the streaming service because of its host of the popular podcaster Joe Rogan.

However, Arie does not own by far the majority of her music. Instead, the master recordings of her first six albums are owned by Universal Music, the world’s largest label with a market value of 42 billion. USD. Universal has not taken steps to remove Aries’ albums, said three people familiar with the matter.

A person close to Universal said it was unclear whether Arie had made a formal request.

The brand has been reluctant to remove music from Spotify in hopes that the streaming service could find a last-minute solution with artists protesting Rogan’s presence on the platform, people close to the situation said.

The uprising flared up last week after singer-songwriter Neil Young complained about the spread of inaccurate Covid-19 vaccine information on Rogan’s podcast, saying, “[Spotify] may have Young or Rogan, not both. “

Spotify, meanwhile, has been running to talk to labels and artists as it tries to end the crisis before earnings results are expected to be released Wednesday morning, said people familiar with the matter.

The situation is uncomfortable for the world’s largest music companies. Spotify is one of the largest sources of revenue for the industry, paying more than $ 5 billion a year to music rights holders.

The companies that own music must choose either to honor the removal requests and lose potential royalty revenue or to alienate artists and get involved in the controversy.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said a senior music record manager. “We can not get into a situation where every time an artist has a problem with a service, we remove their music.”

Joni Mitchell asked last week to remove her music from Spotify, and most of her albums have been removed. But the four albums she released under Geffen Records, a Universal-owned label, are still on Spotify.

Warner Music, the third-largest record label that is home to most of Young and Mitchell’s work, has chosen to accommodate the removal requests. Young and Warner would give up about $ 1.2 million in royalties a year to remove the musician’s songs from Spotify, according to Billboard estimates.

Young’s former bandmate Graham Nash has also asked to have his music removed from the streaming service.

In a typical record contract, the record company holds the rights to a musician’s master recordings for a period in return for its investment in the artist.

Arie said Monday night that she had decided to pull her music from Spotify. “I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his Covid interviews. . . For me, it is also his language about race, ”wrote the R&B singer, who has almost 1.4 million. monthly listeners on Spotify.

Arie left Universal for BMG in 2020. Her album from 2019 Worthythe first released through BMG, is in the process of being removed from Spotify, said a person familiar with the matter.

Rogan and Spotify have tried to curb the maelstrom. Rogan sought to apologize for the setback to a podcast episode in December, in which he interviewed Robert Malone, a virologist who is often critical of the Covid vaccines and has been banned from Twitter.

“I’m very sorry this is happening [Spotify] and they take so much heat for it, ”Rogan said in a 10-minute post on Instagram Sunday.

The controversy has sparked a PR crisis for Spotify as it seems to satisfy critics without alienating Rogan, who is vital to a billion-dollar strategy to expand his service through podcasts.

In recent years, technology companies like YouTube and Facebook have suffered a setback in the content that users upload to their sites. However, Spotify has paid more than $ 100 million to bring Rogan alone, giving the service a more direct relationship as the publisher of Rogan’s podcast.

Social media has abounded with people promising #DeleteSpotify. Belly, a rock band from the 1990s, changed the background of their Spotify profile to an image with “Delete Spotify”. Professor Brené Brown, who has an exclusive podcast deal with Spotify, has threatened not to release any new episodes “so far”.

Spotify has responded to criticism by publishing its content rules and has promised to add an advisory to all podcasts discussing Covid.

However, the company has not removed the December 31 episode of Rogan’s podcast that sparked anger among hundreds of doctors and scientists.

On the podcast, Malone Rogan said U.S. hospitals are the financial incentive to mistakenly report deaths caused by coronavirus, and that vaccinated people were more likely to contract the Omicron coronavirus variant than the unvaccinated. Spotify told the Financial Times that the episode did not violate its content rules.

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