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

India.Arie has asked to remove its songs from Spotify, joining a growing number of musicians who are protesting against the streaming service for hosting popular podcast Joe Rogan.

However, Arie does not own most of his music. Instead, the main recordings of her first six albums are owned by Universal Music, the world’s largest $ 42 billion label. Universal has not taken steps to remove Ari’s albums, three sources said.

A man close to Universal said it was unclear whether Ari had made a formal request.

The label is reluctant to remove the music from Spotify in the hope that the streaming service can reach a last-minute solution with artists protesting Rogan’s presence on the platform, people close to the situation said.

The riot erupted last week after singer-songwriter Neil Young complained about the spread of inaccurate information about the Covid-19 vaccine on Rogan’s podcast, saying: “[Spotify] there may be Young or Rogan, not both. “

Spotify, meanwhile, is vying to talk to labels and artists as it tries to end the crisis before earnings results are released on Wednesday morning, insiders said.

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

Companies that own music must choose to either comply with takeover requests and lose potential royalties, or alienate performers and get involved in the controversy.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said a senior CEO of a music label. “We can’t get into a situation where every artist has a service problem, we remove his music.

Johnny Mitchell last week asked to remove his music from Spotify and most of her albums were downloaded. But the four albums she released on Geffen Records, a Universal-owned label, are still on Spotify.

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

Young’s former colleague, Graham Nash, also demanded that his music be removed from the streaming service.

In a typical recording contract, the label holds the rights to the musician’s main records for a certain period of time in exchange for its investment in the artist.

Ari said Monday night that she has decided to download her music from Spotify. “I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than his interviews with Covid. . . For me, this is his language around the race, “wrote the R&B singer, who has almost 1.4 million listeners a month on Spotify.

Ari left Universal for BMG in 2020. Her 2019 album Worthy, the first launched through BMG, is in the process of being removed by Spotify, said a source familiar with the matter.

Rogan and Spotify tried to quell the vortex. Rogan tried to apologize for reacting to a podcast episode in December in which he interviewed Robert Malone, a virologist who is often critical of Covid vaccines and banned by Twitter.

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

The controversy has sparked a public relations crisis for Spotify as it seeks to satisfy critics without alienating Rogan, who is crucial to a multibillion-dollar strategy to expand its services through podcasts.

In recent years, technology companies such as YouTube and Facebook have reacted to the content that users upload to their sites. However, Spotify has paid more than $ 100 million to attract Rogan exclusively, giving the service a more direct connection as a publisher of Rogan’s podcast.

Social media is animated by people who swear by #DeleteSpotify. Belly, a rock band from the 1990s, changed the background of its Spotify profile to “Delete Spotify”. Professor Brenne Brown, who has an exclusive podcast deal with Spotify, has threatened not to release new episodes “until further notice.”

Spotify responded to the criticism by publishing its content policies and promising to add advice to all podcasts that Covid discusses.

However, the company has not removed the December 31 episode of Rogan’s podcast, which has angered hundreds of doctors and scientists.

In the podcast, Malone told Rogan that American hospitals are financially encouraged to falsely report coronavirus-related deaths and that vaccinated people are more likely to become infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant than unvaccinated ones. Spotify told the Financial Times that the episode did not violate its content rules.

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