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Portland’s ‘A Kid’s Company About’ Removes Podcasts From Spotify

What do Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and a Portland-born children’s media company have in common? They all pulled their content from Spotify last week, amid a wave of backlash against the platform’s support for fear factor host-turned-podcaster Joe Rogan.

In an Instagram post on Friday afternoon, A company for children—which began as a Portlander-led publisher Jelani Memory and grew to include a podcasting network and an educational wing—announced that it will be pulling its nine podcasts from the popular audio platform. “Spotify has chosen to curate its exclusive content with podcasts containing misinformation and bigotry, anti-Black remarks and anti-LGBTQ viewpoints,” the statement read in part. “This does not align with our goals and values ​​at A Kids Co, or the audio content we produce.” The company’s podcasts range from child-focused conversations on climate change, activism and racism, to emotional vocabulary and mindfulness.

In the fall of 2020, Spotify signed a $100 million deal with Rogan that made his controversial and ultra-popular podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, available exclusively on his platform from January 2021. On December 31, 2021, Rogan released an episode with Dr. Robert Malone, a doctor whom Twitter permanently banned for regularly peddling false information about COVID-19.

Days later, nearly 300 medical experts signed an open letter urging Spotify to establish its own tough rules on misinformation, citing the episode, and it sowed the seeds for a mass exodus. Neil Young departed first, on January 26, then Joni Mitchell, and a host of smaller acts followed suit. The objections have progressed beyond COVID-19 misinformation, but remain largely rooted in Spotify’s deal with Rogan.

“Spotify and a lot of other podcast hosts are in this weird new world. They’re podcast hosting platforms, but now they’re also curating content, and when you do that, you’re highlighting your values ​​with the shows that you keep like your original shows,” says Matthew Winner, audio manager at A Kids Company About. “That’s not to say that I have a problem with the shows in particular that they host, that’s more to say than our content and the work that we do for children – trying to provide a safe space to have conversations about what’s happening in the world and who they are – don’t feel right with Spotify’s curated content.”

Winner says A Kids Company About began internal conversations about leaving Spotify after Young and Mitchell’s decisions made headlines. He would consider returning if Spotify changes its affiliations (which seems unlikely at this point), and says that if other platforms “don’t manage their content responsibly or consider their audience responsibly”, he would consider removing A Kids Podcast About shows from them as well.

An interesting tidbit from Winner’s experience: He wasn’t asked by Spotify to give a detailed reason for removing A Kids Company shows from the platform. “I happen to be a person who has no problem explaining why I choose to do things, or in this case, our company chooses to do things,” he says. “So I hope that however they are able to collect this information, Spotify is able to collect it from people who choose to move their content elsewhere, so they can use it to inform their decisions in the future.”

Winner acknowledges that Spotify probably isn’t sweating this specific departure, but says it’s less about the audio giant and more about A Kids Co’s audience: “Defending the kids we’re creating these podcasts for is much more important than any number of downloads we could get from any podcast platform.”