Spotify responds as Harry and Meghan join ‘concerned’ chorus

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have expressed concerns about COVID-19 misinformation on Spotify, as the platform responds to artists ditching their service.

Top musicians around the world continue to pull their work from the streaming giant’s platform in protest against it also carrying podcasts from Joe Rogan, who airs anti-vaccine views.

The wave of artists – including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell – leaving Spotify sparked a response from its CEO on Monday, announcing measures to combat COVID-10 misinformation.

It followed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s charity Archewell revealing on Sunday (US time) that the couple had been “expressing concerns” to Spotify about the issue since the charity’s inception in April last year.

In the statement, a spokesperson said Harry and Meghan continued to do so “to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex signed a lucrative deal with the streaming giant in late 2020, reportedly worth $US25 million ($36 million).

Harry and Meghan signed on to host and produce podcasts for Spotify but have so far produced just one, a “holiday special” published in December 2020.

“Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day,” the Archewell spokesperson said.

“Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform.

“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis.”

In response to the escalating outrage, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said on Monday the company would add a content advisory to any podcast episode that featured a discussion about the virus.

It comes after Mitchell and E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren announced the removal of their catalogues from Spotify at the weekend, while other artists changed social media profile pictures in protest.


A ‘Delete Spotfiy’ message appears on the streaming platform on Sunday. Photo: TND

“Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time,” Mr Ek said in a statement.

“You’ve had a lot of questions over the last few days about our platform policies and the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not.

“We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly.

“This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including COVID-19.”

Mr Ek said Spotify would publish its “long-standing platform rules” to help users understand how it assessed content.

According to its rules, possible problematic content is broken up into four categories: dangerous content, deceptive content, sensitive content, and illegal content.

Mr Ek said Spotify would also test ways to highlight platform rules in creator and publisher tools to raise awareness of what was acceptable, and help creators understand their accountability.

“I want you to know that from the very first days of the pandemic, Spotify has been biased toward action,” Mr Ek said.

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