"It was our desire to keep Joe Budden on Spotify," a Spotify spokesman said in a statement on Thursday morning. "As Joe referenced on his show, we made him a considerable offer — one that was significantly larger and many times the value of the existing agreement and reflective of the current market and size of his audience. Unfortunately, we could not come to terms and we respect his wishes to find a new home for his show."
Budden started The Joe Budden Podcast in 2015 and operated it independently, distributing it on platforms like YouTube and iTunes, for the next few years. In 2018, just as Spotify was starting to explore expanding into non-music audio programming, the company approached Budden about an exclusive licensing deal. "It was a very new idea," Budden said.
In the two years since, Spotify has invested hundreds of millions to grow its podcasting business, acquiring studios Gimlet Media, Parcast and The Ringer and inking deals with big-name talent including Barack and Michelle Obama. Exclusive podcasts have been a key piece of the strategy, with Spotify building on deals with talent like Budden and comedian Amy Schumer to nab high profile shows like The Joe Rogan Experience.
Through the expansion, The Joe Budden Podcast has remained one of Spotify’s most popular shows, regularly charting in top 20 on its podcast charts. As of Wednesday night, the show was ranked No. 9 behind shows including The Daily, Crime Junkie and Call Her Daddy.
Budden, who has been calling out Spotify on his show for the last few months, has taken particular issue with the size of his original two-year deal compared to the amount Spotify has paid to acquire podcast studios. Spotify has disclosed that The Ringer, for instance, sold for nearly $200 million. "I won't get into numbers; I have NDAs everywhere," Budden said, adding that he was being "paid the least in my most valuable asset."
He went on to explain that he expected he'd receive a bonus after the first year of his deal due to the show's performance, but he didn't get one. "I was confused," he said.
Budden was offered a significantly larger deal than the one he signed in 2018. "It is more money than I have ever been privy to in my life," he said on the show. But, he added, the offer comprises more than just the podcast, and if he were to accept "I would not be able to sleep at night."
Budden said he's not angry or bitter "because, the reality is, we both hit our goals," but his decision is all about having a partner who respects him. "Spotify never cared about this podcast individually," he said. "Spotify only cared about our contribution to the platform."
This article originally appeared in THR.com.