March 23, 2023

Spotify Launched A $100M Diversity Fund After Joe Rogan Fiasco But Spent Less Than 10% Of It

Spotify has allegedly spent less than 10% of a $100 million diversity fund it launched after its top podcaster, Joe Rogan, came under fire for spreading Covid-19 misinformation and using racial slurs in his podcast. 

The world’s largest music streaming service announced its $100 million Creator Equity Fund in February 2022 to support the licensing, development, and marketing of music (artists and songwriters) and audio content from historically marginalized groups.

However, Bloomberg News reports that, after its first year, Spotify had spent less than 10% of the money on that work.

Riddled with problems from the start

According to internal memos and reports by insiders, the fund lacked of a well-structured system for vetting and approving projects or allocating money, and was hindered by months-long delays in hiring staff and shifting project priorities.

In January of this year, for example, the fund was still finalizing its 2023 budget and had yet to determine its priority projects.

Read: We Didn’t Pay Creators The $2B As Promised, Say TikTok’s Ex-Head Of Product

Last month, union employees at Spotify’s true-crime podcast division, Parcast, also called on the company to provide more clarity around an annual fund intended to promote diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and accessibility. The union reported that Parcast had approved just $5,000 in spending over the past year out of a promised $100,000 for annual DEI, and accessibility work.

Another Spotify fund aimed at promoting diversity in podcasts suffered after that business was hit by layoffs last year. Spotify also recently faced criticism from Anti-Defamation League about its failure to tackle white supremacist content on its platform. 

How much has been spent?

Spotify declined to respond to Bloomberg’s request for specific spending numbers for the equity fund, but sources told Complex and Endgadget that the Creator Equity Fund had used more than Bloomberg’s reported 10%.

A Spotify spokesperson also told Bloomberg that the fund aims to amplify the voices and work of primarily Black and LGBTQ creators in the US, UK, and Brazil over several years, not within a specific time frame.

“The Spotify Creator Equity Fund is dedicated to a variety of initiatives that help elevate and support an inclusive and diverse portfolio of artists and creators on the platform,” a Spotify spokesperson told Complex.

“By investing in programs like GLOW, Frequency, NextGen and AMPLIFIKA, we are able to empower and uplift underrepresented voices around the world.” 

A spokesperson also told Bloomberg that they funded initiatives for Latine communities. However, Bloomberg notes that some of the projects backed by the fund weren’t new to the company.

At the time of writing, Spotify has yet to share an actual figure detailing how much money they have spent from the fund.

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)