Spotify is removing Neil Young's music after he left the music streaming service with a stark choice: it’s me or Joe Rogan. Spotify chose Rogan.
In a now-deleted letter on his website, the 76-year-old artist accused Spotify of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines through its most popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Young, who has a long history of political activism, accused Spotify of profiting from misinformation about COVID-19 and asked that they either remove his entire music catalog or Rogan’s podcast series.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” the letter read. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” it adds. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Spotify confirmed it was in the process of removing Young’s music from its platform, adding “we regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon."
This comes after another recent open letter by 270 experts, scientists and healthcare professionals also called upon Spotify to take action over Rogan's "dangerous" COVID misinformation. Spotify signed a reported $100 million exclusivity deal with Rogan in 2020.
Rogan has come under a lot of heat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for spreading misinformation to his millions of listeners. Along with repeatedly suggesting young healthy people don’t need the vaccine — contrary to scientific advice — Rogan has also been criticized for platforming Dr Robert Malone, a controversial virologist who was involved in the development of mRNA vaccine technology but has since propagated falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccines. In an episode that aired December 31, 2021, Dr Malone argued the COVID-19 pandemic was akin to the “mass formation psychosis” seen during the rise of the Nazis in 1920s Germany.
Dr Malone, who has used his credentials to become a spokesperson for the anti-vaxx movement, has previously suggested that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, may actually be making SARS-CoV-2 more dangerous and that the Pfizer vaccine was not fully approved. Both of these claims are false and misleading.
Spotify has claimed that it supports COVID-19 vaccine education and advocacy, publicly declaring it is dedicated to “providing accurate vaccine information” to its users. Nevertheless, it appears the streaming giant has picked the side of Rogan, and his 11 million listeners per episode.
Young has since issued a follow-up letter in response to Spotify's latest move. In a post on his website on Wednesday, Young said Spotify has “become the home of life-threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money.” He thanked his record label for its support and acknowledged they would be losing 60 percent of his streaming music income. He also criticized Spotify for peddling "the lowest quality in music reproduction" and encouraged other artists to take their work off the platform.
He signed off his letter: “In the name of truth.”