Spotify Is Making a Bold Bet on Joe Rogan and Itself

Performances At The Ice House Comedy Club
Performances At The Ice House Comedy Club / Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images

Podcasting giant Joe Rogan is taking his talents to Spotify in the latest major swing for the company. Recode's Peter Kafka was the first to report the move, which Rogan announced on his show today. The multiyear licensing deal will bring the Joe Rogan Experience to the platform beginning in September. Beginning in January, all Rogan's past and present content will be exclusive to Spotify.

Spotify, which paid handsomely for The Ringer in February, has now made four major acquisitions and a unique deal with Rogan over the past 15 months. While the audio boom was very real pre-COVID-19, there's no telling what the market is going to be going forward. One could make an informed guess, though, that if there's one guy recession-proof -- especially in a contentious election year -- it's this one.

As Kafka writes, the move to bring in the industry's biggest shock jock to a new home is reminiscent of Howard Stern's enormous jump to SiriusXM some 16 years ago. But the climates are vastly different.

Right now, Rogan is the captain of a pirate ship completely unafraid to sail into choppy seas and court controversy. That's the appeal baked into the show. He largely answers for himself and very little runs uphill in the form of public opinion blowback. Spotify surely understands all they'll be in for hosting JRE on its property. There will be headaches. Those headaches will be an indicator Rogan is doing what he does best -- spark conversation and passion.

Stern may have been a bigger outlier at the time. But even the white-hot lights then weren't as warm as the lukewarm ones now. Every small thing can be amplified until it's a medium thing and a major thing made into a full-blown firestorm.

None of this is to say this home-run swing isn't worth the risk. The reward of knocking it out of the park is far greater than this proving to be a strikeout. Spotify is betting big on itself and this latest shove of chips proves it's a fearless gambler.