The Swedish music and podcast streaming behemoth, which has over half a billion users, says it will only remove content that is directly in breach of its terms and conditions, rather than because of concerns about its author.
However podcast producer Acast, which provides the platform for Brand’s Under The Skin podcast and distributes it across the internet, says it has turned off ads on the show following news of the allegations against the 48-year-old.
In what is a common arrangement for podcast providers such as Acast, Spotify pays the provider for the right to feature its shows, such as Brand’s, on the platform – but it told the BBC that it is up to Acast to decide whether to give the performer any more cash.
It came as broadcasters and other podcasts began stripping references to Brand from their own platforms following bombshell reporting published at the weekend accusing Brand of rape and sexual assault.
Brand has strenuously denied the allegations, and claimed ahead of their publication that he was the victim of ‘astonishing, rather baroque attacks’ that aim to silence him after he began sharing conspiracy theories online.
But the BBC and Channel 4 have removed shows featuring the comedian, including episodes of QI and The Great Celebrity Bake Off, in which he made a biscuits in the shape of a vagina.
The BBC has also reported that Stephen Bartlett, a Dragons’ Den investor, has removed an episode of his Diary of a CEO podcast featuring Brand that was released earlier this year.
A description of the episode says Brand discusses ‘how his life has been defined by his addictions’ with the businessman.
BBC director-general Tim Davie said some of his content was ‘completely unacceptable’, and announced that Peter Johnston, director of editorial complaints, would be leading a review into Brand’s time at the corporation.
The probe will look at complaints against Brand, what BBC bosses knew, and what was done, the broadcaster said. The review – which will provide an interim update ‘within weeks’ – will also examine the comedian’s use of a BBC car which one victim says he sent to pick her up from school and take her to his house when she was 16.
The Russell Brand Show aired on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 between 2006 and 2008. He has also appeared as a guest on other shows including QI and the Joe Wicks podcast.
Today, the BBC confirmed that clips featuring Brand had been removed from iPlayer and BBC Sounds. Channel 4 has also removed episodes featuring him from their streaming service, including one episode of Celebrity Bake Off where he made an edible vagina.
After announcing the BBC’s review today, Mr Davie was asked if the corporation had a culture of ‘letting people get away with bad behaviour’.
‘I do think we’re in a different place, over 15 years,’ he replied. ‘When I listened back, frankly, to some of those broadcasts [featured on the Dispatches investigation into Brand] I go, that is just completely unacceptable.
‘What led to that being on air? Now there are, you know, different times and all of that, but I just look at that stuff and I say there is no way I will listen to that, there’s no way I accept it.’
A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC does not ban or remove content when it is a matter of public record, unless we have justification for doing so.
‘There is limited content featuring Russell Brand on iPlayer and Sounds. We’ve reviewed that content and made a considered decision to remove some of it, having assessed that it now falls below public expectations.’
Channel 4 said: ‘We have taken down content featuring Russell Brand from our streaming service while we look into this matter. This includes the Celebrity Bake Off episode.’
Under the terms of his suspension Brand – whose net worth has been estimated between £15million and £40million – will still be allowed to post videos on the platform but will not receive any of the advertising revenue.
YouTube said in a statement: ‘If a creator’s off-platform behaviour harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community. This decision applies to all channels that may be owned or operated by Russell Brand.’
Other channels associated with his main YouTube page include Football Is Nice, which has some 20,000 subscribers, Awakening With Russell, which has 426,000 subscribers, and Stay Free With Russell Brand, which has 22,200 subscribers.
Advertisers pay YouTube to show their adverts before, during or after videos that are posted on the platform. Most YouTube content creators will not get a say in what ads are served.
The advertising revenue is then split between the platform, owned by YouTube, and whoever made the video. Each receives around half.
The news comes after the remaining shows of Brand’s Bipolarisation tour were postponed and the Metropolitan Police said they had received a report of an alleged sexual assault in the wake of media allegations about the comedian and actor.
Brand ‘absolutely denies’ the allegations and insists all his relationships have been consensual.
Brand’s PR firm MBC PR and talent agent Tavistock Wood no longer advertise him as a client, and his publisher Bluebird, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, has suspended their relationship.
And Netflix has now been urged to remove his comedy special, Re:Birth, from its catalogue.
Brand has around six million subscribers on YouTube, which earn him an estimated £49,000 a month
The clips regularly touch on conspiracy theories, including the idea that the pandemic, the Ukraine war and climate change distract from the activities of the global elite
Brand’s YouTube account has been suspended from YouTube’s Partner Programme ‘following serious allegations against the creator’, meaning his channel is no longer able to make money from advertising.
YouTube added that suspending a creator from the YouTube Partner Programme means they are ‘prohibited from using a new or alternate channel to circumvent our enforcement decision’.
Brand still has a presence on video platform Rumble, where his channel has 1.4million followers and he hosts a weekly live show at 5pm BST, but there was no new episode on Monday.
His most recent video on Rumble is the short clip from Friday when he denied the allegations against him which were published the following day.
The Rumble channel description reads: ‘Everybody knows that the old ideas won’t help us. Religion is dead. Capitalism is dead. Communism is dead. Where will the answers of the next century lie? Particularly, when we’re facing a mental health epidemic and ecological meltdown.’
Critics claim Brand has ‘set up a cult’ online to back him since the birth of the Me Too movement in 2017 by giving a platform to conspiracy theories including the idea that the pandemic, the Ukraine war and climate change distract from the activities of the global elite.
He also has 11million followers on Twitter, four million fans on Instagram and a hugely popular podcast with a lucrative ‘Stay Free’ merchandise range. While no longer being able to make money on YouTube will be a blow to Brand, 48, it will do little to dent his overall net worth – which has been estimated to be as high as £40million.
He remains on Locals, an online community platform where members can pay a minimum of £48 a year for bonus content.
His Instagram has a link to a merchandise store, which leads to a webpage saying the site it currently under review. Meanwhile, his personal website is still selling tickets to a wellness festival scheduled for next summer, hosted by him and his wife. Laura Gallacher.
Some weekend tickets costing between £160 and £195 each have sold out.
Brand’s personal company which he earns with his wife – Pablo Diablo’s Legitimate Business Firm Ltd – saw its net assets more than double from £2m to £4.1m in 2021, according to Companies House filings.
The comic has received support online from the likes of Andrew Tate and Elon Musk and his fans were out in force at a gig in Wembley on Saturday to show their backing.
Far-right radio host Alex Jones, who owes $1.5billion in damages to the families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, said: ‘The matrix is coming after Russell Brand, anybody that challenges the globalists, anybody that challenges Big Pharma, anybody that’s popular, that comes out against the establishment… is going to be accused of assaulting women. Now, because he comes out against the New World Order, suddenly the allegations are happening to him’.
One fan said after allegations he abused women: ‘Somewhere along the way Russell Brand woke up and became a powerful dissenting voice who no longer served their agenda. No wonder they are desperate to destroy him’.
PR guru Mark Borkowski believes Brand has built a ‘cult following’ online who may be willing to back him despite the ‘horrendous’ accusations about his treatment of women.
Brand, pictured at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on Saturday night, looks set to keep a large amount of his fanbase despite the allegations against him
Russell Brand pictured with his wife Laura Gallacher shortly before the allegations against him emerged
Russell Brand’s subscription and video views on YouTube have exploded since 2017
Comedian Rosie Holt said: ‘I guess the lesson is kids, if sexual misconduct rumours have been swimming about you for ages, set up a cult on YouTube to support you when the allegations become public’.
One American writer said: ‘Russell Brand has known this day was coming for him since October 2017.
‘Since then, he’s strategically cultivated and groomed a new mentally-malleable cult following that distrusts both women and the media so he can continue getting high on his other drug of choice — the spotlight’.
The investigation by Channel 4, The Times and Sunday Times began four years ago. Around the same time he stepped back from much of his TV and movie work.
His net worth has been estimated between £15m and £40m – with YouTube experts claiming he makes $61,000-a-month from YouTube plus another $100k-a-month from merchandise and paid subscriptions to his podcast.
He lives with his wife Laura Gallacher in their £3million riverside home in Henley, Oxfordshire.
PR experts have said that this army of fans means that he will never be cancelled.
Mark Borkowski believes that the comedian, who has been accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by multiple women, has declared war on the mainstream media.
He said: ‘The crimes he’s been accused of are horrendous, and are damaging for him and for the people who were looking after him at the time’.
Brand hosting Big Brother’s Little Brother in May 2006 – which is another one of the show’s Channel 4 has removed from its website containing the comedian
Channel 4 has since removed shows from its site linked with Brand. Pictured: Brand on Celebrity Great British Bake Off
Latest Russell Brand News
The PR guru said some of his fanbase will stay intact thanks to the ‘unfettered unregulated world of social media’ – and raises serious questions for the BBC and Channel 4.
He added that the comedian’s denial of the accusations was reminiscent of how Donald Trump deals with accusations of improper behaviour.
Mr Borkowski said: ‘I think there will be a profound amount of people who will stand by him. Normally with allegations like this your career would be over, but not in this case, which is interesting.
‘He’s a great content generator. He didn’t get to the top of his profession because he’s mediocre. He has the power to bewitch his audience.’
Brand was accused of attacking four women between 2006 and 2013 when he was working a presenter for BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 and later as an actor in Hollywood. Other women have made a range of accusations about controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour.
Mr Borkowski said: ‘It throws up questions against someone who has been allowed a certain amount of power because of his talent and his meteoric rise.
‘It questions Russell Brand but also those in governance in TV. There will be a lot of people looking at themselves this morning – those people in power today won’t be the same ones in power that presided over this.’
Brand has since been dropped by a women’s charity he was working with, while TV production companies and channels have launched probes into his alleged behaviour.
Mr Borkowski added: ‘There’s a question whether he’s going to face police action, but the question at the moment is of social media – the man isn’t going to get a fair trial when the police have the evidence to prosecute him.
‘More people may come forward, other people might see an opportunity. It’s a very complex case, mixed between old media and social media’.
A joint investigation by The Times, Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches includes allegations Brand assaulted one of the women when she was a 16-year-old schoolgirl and another woman has claimed he raped her against a wall in his home in Los Angeles.
The Times reports several other women have since come forward with fresh claims about Brand.
One woman, using the fake name Lisa, told the paper the comedian had sung about the Soham killer Ian Huntley during a consensual sexual encounter in 2008.
She said: ‘He started talking about Ian Huntley, the paedophile and child killer, and mentioned it quite a few times, like in a joking way, but also made up a whole song about it.
‘I just couldn’t understand why you would be able to have sex and talk about a child killer at the same time.’
Staff at Big Brother producer Endemol admitted last night that many feared Brand’s ‘predatory’ behaviour
The comedian released a video last week refuting all the allegations against him. Pictured: Brand leaving the Troubabour Wembley Park theatre after a gig on Saturday night
Another woman, known as Esme, told the Times Brand had been threatening and verbally abusive towards her when she refused to have sex with him.
In a now deleted YouTube video, Brand can be heard joking about raping a woman during a recording of Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast in 2013.
Celebrities who have been banned from YouTube, from Andrew Tate to Donald Trump
Russell Brand has been suspended from YouTube’s Partner Programme ‘following serious allegations against the creator’, meaning his channel is no longer able to make money from advertising.
He joins a long list of celebrities who have been censured by the platform. They include –
ANDREW TATE: The ‘King of Toxic Masculinity’ was permanently banned from YouTube last year. He had been regularly accused of misogyny and hate speech.
DONALD TRUMP: The president was suspended from YouTube after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. The suspension took place for two years before he was permanently banned.
ALEX JONES: The host of InfoWars was banned from YouTube in 2018. He had played a leading role in spreading conspiracy theories around events such as the 9/11 attacks and Sandy Hook school shooting.
DAVID ICKE: The notorious conspiracy theorist had his YouTube account deleted in 2020 after he made false claims about coronavirus, including that it was linked to 5G.
Before the first allegations were published, Brand posted a video on Friday saying he has been ‘promiscuous’ but that all of his relationships have been ‘consensual’.
The BBC, Channel 4 and Banijay UK, which bought Endemol, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to produce the Big Brother spin-off shows Brand hosted, have all launched investigations into his behaviour while he was working on their programmes.
Downing Street urged the broadcasters to set out the results of their investigations into Brand ‘transparently’.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman called the allegations ‘very serious and concerning’.
Channel 4 announced it has removed content featuring Brand from its streaming service while it looks into the claims and will remind production companies of its code of conduct.
It comes after Brand was accused of pursuing audience members for sex while presenting Big Brother spin-off shows EFourum and Big Brother’s Big Mouth on Channel 4.
Banijay UK, which bought Endemol in 2020, said it has launched an ‘urgent internal investigation’ and encouraged ‘anybody who feels that they were affected by Brand’s behaviour’ to come forward.
The BBC is facing questions after one of the women, who was 16 when she claims Brand began a relationship with her, alleged he used the corporation’s car service to pick her up from school to take her to his home.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Monday, the woman, known as Alice, said Brand’s denial was ‘laughable’ and ‘insulting’.
In 2020, the same woman contacted Brand’s literary agent at the time, who was also the co-founder of talent agency Tavistock Wood.
A spokesman for the agency said Brand ‘categorically and vehemently denied the allegations’ at the time but they now believe they were ‘horribly misled’ and have terminated all professional ties with the comedian.
Revealing the distressing incident that took place in 2005, the woman – who remains anonymous – alleged that Brand followed five paces behind her for what ‘felt like a lifetime’ and shouted to her: ‘Let’s just f*** right here’.
The woman, who was in her 20s at the time, said she met Brand at a bar in Primrose Hill in London. She told of how despite telling him not to leave with her, Brand followed her into the street and became ‘creepy’.
‘It felt like he was hunting me down. It wasn’t flirty or fun. The word ‘predator’ is absolutely spot-on.
‘He was dead set on his goal. His intention was to have sex with someone, anyone,’ she told The Sun.
As Dispatches aired on Saturday Brand performed a sold out comedy gig at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in north-west London as part of his Bipolarisation tour.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said they do not have an open investigation into Brand, and another confirmed there have been no arrests following two allegations concerning claims that are said to have happened in the US.
The Met police said: ‘On Sunday September 17, the Met received a report of a sexual assault which was alleged to have taken place in Soho in central London in 2003.
‘Officers are in contact with the woman and will be providing her with support.
‘We first spoke with The Sunday Times on Saturday September 16 and have since made further approaches to The Sunday Times and Channel 4 to ensure that anyone who believes they have been the victim of a sexual offence is aware of how to report this to the police.’
The woman who has reported the alleged sexual assault had not spoken to The Sunday Times.
Russell Brand’s comments in full:
Hello there you awakening wonders. Now this is not the usual type of video we make on this channel where we critique, attack and undermine the news in all its corruption because in this story I am the news.
I have received two extremely disturbing letters – or a letter and an email – one from a mainstream media TV company, one from a newspaper listing a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks, as well as some pretty stupid stuff, like my community festival should be stopped and I shouldn’t be able to attack mainstream media narratives on this channel.
But amidst this litany of astonishing rather baroque attacks are some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute. These allegations pertain to a time when I was in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies, and as I’ve written about extensively in my books I was very, very promiscuous.
During that time of promiscuity the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual. I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I am being transparent about it now as well.
And to see that transparency metastasized into something criminal that I absolutely deny makes me question is there another agenda at play.
Particularly when we have seen coordinated media attacks before, like Joe Rogan where he dared to take a medicine the mainstream media didn’t approve of and we saw a spate of headlines of media outlets around the world using the same language.
I am aware that you guys in the comments have been for a while saying “watch out Russell, they’re coming for you,” “you are getting too close to the truth”, “Russell Brand did not kill himself”.’
I know a year ago there was a spate of articles: Russell Brand is a conspiracy theorists; Russell Brand is right wing.
I am aware of newspapers making phone calls, sending letters to people I know. For ages and ages, it’s been clear to me or at least feels to be there’s a serious and consorted agenda to control these kinds of spaces and these kind of voices.
I need my voice along with your voice. I don’t mind them using my books and my stand up to talk about my promiscuous sexual conduct in the past. What I seriously refute are these very, very serious, criminal allegations.
Also its worth mentioning that there are witnesses whose evidence directly contradicts the narratives that these two mainstream media outlets are trying to construct, apparently in what seems to be to me a coordinated attack.
Now, I don’t want to get into this any further because of the serious nature of the allegations but I feel like I’m being attacked and plainly they are working very closely together.
We are obviously going to look into this matter because it is very, very serious.
In the meantime, I want you to stay close, stay awake but more importantly than any of that, if you can stay free.