Podcast king Joe Rogan may ditch Spotify for another platform — possibly even joining Elon Musk’s X — after his contract expires next year.
The wildly popular host of the “Joe Rogan Experience” — which draws an estimated 11 million listeners per episode — signed an exclusive licensing deal with Spotify that paid him a reported $200 million in 2020.
But with Spotify cutting its ballooning costs as Rogan’s contract comes to end, industry experts said the podcaster is in the driver’s seat.
“It’s a situation where you are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don’t,” Arete Research founder Richard Kramer told The Verge.
“If you do keep him, Spotify will be locked into paying Rogan as much or more than before, at a time when they need to contain costs. If you don’t keep him, then it’s really tough because your biggest property and source of sales within the ad business — walks.”
The Post has sought comment from Rogan and Spotify.
Rogan has a variety of options, including striking out on his own by creating a media company that would distribute the podcast as well as produce other content that would appeal to his fan base, analysts said.
Another option may be joining forces with Rogan’s good friend Musk, the Tesla mogul who famously smoked pot on Rogan’s podcast and got in trouble for it.
Musk, who acquired the social media platform for $44 billion last year, has sought to attract larger audiences to X through independent content creators.
He recently sat down with Rogan for a specially streamed interview — the first two hours of which were available exclusively on the platform formerly known as Twitter.
During the interview, Musk lashed out at George Soros, the liberal billionaire financier and backer of progressive districts attorney in crime-hit cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, saying: “In my opinion, he fundamentally hates humanity.”
Other players in streaming such as Alphabet’s YouTube or Amazon could also enter the picture and offer Rogan a deal that dwarfs the nine-figure contract that he inked with Spotify.
Spotify’s signing of Rogan was a coup for the company — despite the string of controversies surrounding the podcast’s guests.
Rogan’s lineup of interviewees included conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as well as skeptics of the COVID-19 vaccine — among other guests.
Rogan’s penchant for interviewing outside-the-mainstream figures sparked calls for Spotify to muzzle their podcast star — which the company has refused to do.
Last year, Rogan had threatened to quit if he was forced to limit the topics that he could discuss on his show.
Spotify has been on a cost-cutting spree after making bad bets on podcasting in recent years.
The Stockholm-based company ended up ruing the more than $1 billion investments it made in signing big-name stars such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Obamas, and Kim Kardashian — all of whom created podcasts that resulted in a huge net loss.
Spotify laid off 6% of its employees earlier this year and began raising prices for its subscription tiers.
“We are still focusing on efficiencies, but efficiencies for us doesn’t mean just cost-cutting, it means getting more out of each dollar,” CEO Daniel Ek told Reuters
The company’s cost-cutting strategy appears to have paid off in the most recent quarter.
Spotify posted a third quarter operating income of $34.1 million, its first quarterly profit since 2021, helped by a higher gross margin and a growing base of monthly listeners.
The company’s number of monthly active users rose 26% to 574 million in the third quarter, beating its own guidance and analysts’ forecast of 565.7 million.
Premium subscribers, who account for most of the company’s revenue, rose 16% to 226 million, topping estimates of 223.7 million, according to IBES data from LSEG.