Spotify loses Joe Budden, its first big podcasting star

August 27, 2020, 5:03 PM UTC

Spotify Technology SA is losing Joe Budden, one of its most popular podcast hosts, after failing to come to terms on a new deal.

Spotify said it offered Budden a significant raise that reflected his market value. “Unfortunately, we could not come to terms and we respect his wishes to find a new home for his show,” the company said Thursday.

Budden was Spotify’s first original hit in podcasting, and a sign of its growing ambitions. The former rapper signed a deal in 2018 to make his talk show exclusive to Spotify, and was regularly cited as one of the most popular programs on the platform. His show remains in the top 20 in the app’s U.S. rankings.

Spotify has since spent hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring podcast companies such as Gimlet Media and the Ringer, and committed more than $100 million for the exclusive rights to Joe Rogan, another popular host.

Budden says Spotify used him as a guinea pig for this larger strategy, and accused the company of not supporting him. “Spotify never cared about this podcast individually,” he said on his latest podcast. “Spotify only cared about our contribution to the platform.”

Podcast listening has soared on Spotify in the past two years, and Budden’s departure isn’t going to cause much of a dent in the short term. However, his claims will reverberate in a podcasting community already wary of Spotify’s growing power, and may damage Spotify’s reputation among musicians who say the company doesn’t compensate them adequately for their work.