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Web traffic to Spotify’s cancellation page spikes as company remains mired in Joe Rogan controversy


By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

The traffic to the cancellation page for Spotify Premium has jumped in recent weeks as the audio streaming company faces a wave of backlash over its support for podcaster Joe Rogan, an analytics firm told CNN.

The analytics firm, SimilarWeb, told CNN Tuesday night that it had seen traffic to the cancellation page spike 196% week-over-week in its most recent set of data.

That set of data compared traffic from the week starting on January 17 to traffic from the week starting January 24. In the week of the 17th, 39,924 visits to the page were recorded. In the week of the 24th, 118,168 visits were recorded.

Spokespeople for Spotify didn’t return requests for comment.

Spotify Premium monthly fees start at $9.99 and go up to $15.99 for a family plan. There is also a free version. The company said in its most recent earnings report that it had hit 180 million paying subscribers, meaning that even if all the recent visits to the page represented actual cancellations for its paid product, it would likely not cause much damage to its bottom line. And there’s no way to be sure, at least for now, how many of those visits to the cancellation page actually resulted in a cancellation.

Still, the increased traffic to the page is notable.

Seema Shah, who leads SimilarWeb’s research team, told CNN that she hasn’t seen something like this in Spotify’s history.

“This is a huge spike,” she said. “It implies people were passionate about the issue and took immediate action. We’ll see if it keeps rising.”

The traffic, which has shown no signs of slowing down, could also ramp up as Rogan continues to face criticism for having used racial slurs in episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” years ago.

Rogan, whose contract with Spotify is worth a reported $100 million, apologized on Saturday for using the slurs on Saturday, admitting he “f***ed up.”

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, additionally attempted to quell the controversy Sunday night by telling employees that his team had spoken to Rogan and that the episodes had been removed from the platform’s library. Ek also said that the language did not represent Spotify’s values.

The controversy, however, is still roiling the company.

Neil Young, who drew attention to the anti-vaccine rhetoric on Rogan’s podcast by pulling his entire library from Spotify, this week encouraged more recording artists to leave the platform. Young’s initial decision came after a group of more than 250 scientists, doctors, nurses and researchers wrote an open letter to Spotify to call out the Covid-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories that Rogan promotes on his podcast.

Young also encouraged Spotify employees to depart the company before “it eats up your soul.”

“Be free and take the good path,” Young said.

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