Spotify released new data on Wednesday showing the attempt to sink the audio streaming platform earlier this year failed spectacularly.
What is the background?
Controversy erupted in January after Joe Rogan hosted several medical doctors on the "Joe Rogan Experience" who offered perspectives about the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID vaccines that deviated from the government's approved narrative.
Rogan was accused of spreading misinformation, sowing vaccine hesitancy, and he was even accused of being a "menace to public health."
Musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell yanked their music from the platform, and users declared they were canceling their Spotify subscriptions because the platform continued to host Rogan's podcast, which is the biggest in the world. Despite the pushback, Spotify, which has an exclusive contract with Rogan, refused to cancel him.
What is happening now?
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced Wednesday that Spotify grew in the first quarter of 2022 despite the backlash and cancel campaign.
The company said paid memberships grew to 182 million from 180 million the previous quarter, which amounted to a 15% year-over-year increase. Monthly active users, meanwhile, rose to 422 million from 406 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, which amounted to a 19% increase in active users. Total revenue also increased year-over-year by 24%.
Spotify's metrics actually would have been even better had the company not withdrawn from the Russian market, which cut approximately 1.5 million users from the service.
"Excluding the impact of our exit from Russia, subscriber growth exceeded expectations," the company told shareholders.
Rogan disclosed on his podcast last week that all the attention the media devoted to smearing him actually caused his podcast to gain millions of new listeners.
"It's interesting, my subscriptions went up massively — that's what's crazy. During the height of it all, I gained 2 million subscribers," Rogan said.