Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended controversial podcast host Joe Rogan during a Spotify town hall on Wednesday, saying Spotify is a platform and a publisher of content, according to The Verge, which obtained audio of the town hall meeting.

What happened: Ek spoke to Spotify’s employees, who have been waiting to hear from the company after controversy erupted around Rogan, a star podcaster.

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What he said: Ek said Rogan is one of the most-searched podcasters on the platform, which gives Spotify an edge over the competition.

  • “To combat this, we needed to find leverage, and one way we could do this was in the form of exclusives,” he said, according to The Verge. “To be frank, had we not made some of the choices we did, I am confident that our business wouldn’t be where it is today.”
  • “I understand the premise that because we have an exclusive deal with him, it’s really easy to conclude we endorse every word he says and believe the opinions expressed by his guests. That’s absolutely not the case.”
  • “It is important to note that we do not have creative control over Joe Rogan’s content. We don’t approve his guests in advance, and just like any other creator, we get his content when he publishes, and then we review it, and if it violates our policies, we take the appropriate enforcement actions.”

Flashback: Rogan’s show allegedly featured COVID-19 misinformation, which seemed to strike a nerve with artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren, who all said they’d remove their content if Rogan’s show wasn’t dropped, the Deseret News’ Art Raymond writes.

  • In the end, Spotify supported Rogan’s show.
  • The aforementioned artists’ content was taken off the platform.
  • Per The Verge, “employees had been venting inside the corporate messaging system and awaiting a response from leadership about why it chose “The Joe Rogan Experience” over Neil Young, setting off a domino effect of other musicians and podcasters pulling content off the service.”

The bottom line: Spotify is still trying to talk its way out of the heat over the Rogan podcast, even as employees, customers and artists criticize the company’s decision.