What Content Creators Can Learn From The Joe Rogan & Spotify Deal


Yesterday Joe Rogan announced that his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” will be exclusively offered on Spotify at the end of the year:

His full library, dating back 11 years, will be available on Spotify as of September 1st, and become exclusive to Spotify by the end of the year.

This is a massive blow to Apple and other streaming sites.

But it’s a massive win for Spotify.

In less than 30 minutes after the announcement; the Spotify stock added more than 1.5 billion in market cap showing 5% growth. Not too shabby. While it might not have a lasting impact on their stock… I do think this deal is a signal to the media industry, influencer space & wonderful world of podcasts that the medium is coming of age.

According to the Wall Street Journal – the Joe Rogan podcast was purchased for more than $100 million. This story might sound familiar. In February, Spotify, paid $196 Million to Acquire Bill Simmons’ The Ringer but there’s a big difference between the Joe Rogan Podcast and The Ringer…

The Ringer is a collection of 30 different shows covering everything from The Bachelor or Game Of Thrones to the NBA & NFL.

The Ringer Podcast Episodes

The Joe Rogan Experience on the other hand is a one person podcast with nothing more than a personality talking to a wide range of topics with a wide range of guests.

One show.
One person.
One hundred million dollars.

Regardless of what you think about the show & Joe Rogan. This is one of the most fascinating growth stories in media history over the last 10 years. The show started in 2009 with two guys sitting on their laptops just chatting shop while allowing their conversation to be broadcasted live on Ustream. In an interview with Thom Carnell, Joe Rogan shared the story about their start:

The podcast was totally organic. It started out with me and Brian Redban sitting in front of laptops bullshitting. It’s kind of beautiful in that respect. It’s almost a year old now and, in that year, you can see the full evolution from sitting in front of a laptop to professional microphones and a mixer and a soundboard. For a long time people were complaining about the sound issues so… we figured it all out. We got it all together slowly over time. Now, it’s not just me and Brian… Now, I’m getting guests and every day I’m getting emails from people who want to promote their books or their thing, some guy from Vegan.com wants to come on and debate me about eating animals… There are all sorts of different things that are happening with it now. Again, it’s totally organic. It just sort of happened. I didn’t sit down and say, “Hey, what I’m going to do is that I’m going to create my own radio show. Since nobody wants to give me a radio show, I’m going to make my own.” No. It just happened.

If you’re looking to better understand the world of media & content today; this is a story worth studying. The idea of the Joe Rogan Experience started in a podcast-esque format,  with content shared freely online back in 2003 when Rogan hired Brian Redban. Brian was a self-taught video editor and an employee at a computer store in Ohio, who Rogan hired to work for him full time to film, produce, and edit videos for his website. Eventually, Brian & Joe  went separate ways after a fall out (the drama rabbit hole is here). Since then…The Joe Rogan experience has taken off as a podcast & YouTube channel. On YouTube, he has 8.4M subscribers and in 2019 he shared that the podcast was generating 190 million monthly downloads. Throw in an additional 9 million followers on Instagram, 6 million followers on Twitter and 2.4 million on Facebook and it’s safe to say Joe Rogan has created a personal brand that people both love & hate.

Spotify is making a bet.

It’s making a bet that these millions of people will move from whatever platform they currently use to listen to Joe Rogan (Apple, Stitcher, Overcast, etc) to Spotify. From there, the goal is that these people will subscribe to more podcasts on Spotify and eventually help them generate more ads revenue or subscription revenue through a premium Spotify account.

It’s a smart bet.

But here’s why this should matter to you:

This is a signal to those who have ignored the rise of podcasts. Podcasting isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s an intimate channel for a connection between creators and listeners. It’s a scalable media format that can be repurposed and reused across multiple networks and distribution channels. It’s easy to digest on the go & it’s expected that by 2022 more than 60% of US consumers will have listened to podcasts at some point.

My personal prediction:
By 2035: The same way most people see a YouTube video every week. Most people will listen to a podcast episode every week.

This Joe Rogan & Spotify deal is also a sign of the growing power that content creators have in todays market. Joe Rogan is just one of hundreds of stories where influencers & personalities have grown in their domain & built real business leverage.

This is important from both a personal development lens and for anyone at a company tasked with driving growth. In the 90s, you would need to ink a deal with a television network or local publication to get your name in front of people.  Today, it’s possible through democratization of media with platforms & technologies like YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Email, Facebook & good old fashioned blogs. Today, you can now grow and gain direct access to an engaged audience without the middleman.  that on its own is powerful. It’s also valuable…

That’s why Spotify is paying $100M+ for exclusivity for the Joe Rogan podcast.

Issac Asimov said it well:

Computerization eliminates the middleman.

You no longer need to wait for TSN, FOX, CBC, CNN or any other acronym tap on your should to build an audience and eventually a community. All you need is a laptop, some wifi and a splash of hustle. If you create valuable content for an audience it adds equity to your brand. Whether it’s your personal brand or your business – every time you hit publish, you’re building equity.  That equity will compound over time and will pay dividends for years to come.

Don’t get me wrong…

I know it’s not easy to publish consistently.

It’s not easy to produce content for 11 years (that’s why I salute Joe Rogan on this accomplish). But when you realize that every asset you publish is exactly that — an asset — it offers some necessary perspective around the importance of creating in public and keeping the long game in mind.