Legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young is set to be dropped from Spotify after making an ultimatum to the company; either Joe Rogan goes, or he does.
Spotify, in turn, have now responded by saying that they would rather keep the streaming figures of Rogan, the most popular podcast host in the world, over Young.
In a since-deleted open letter to Spotify, the singer of classic hits like ‘Harvest Moon,’ ‘Heart of Gold,’ and ‘Hey Hey, My My’ demanded that they remove his music from their platform due to their part in spreading misinformation about vaccines by hosting Rogan.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” he wrote.
“Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule. I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he continued. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
In a statement to Variety, a Spotify representative said “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators.
“We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”
Young posted a reaction to the news after the announcement was confirmed by Spotify, titled “In the Name of Truth,” in which he encouraged other artists to follow him in boycotting the service.
Waiting on all the musicians to step up and back Neil Young.
Where are you?
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) January 27, 2022
“Spotify has recently become a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about COVID,” he wrote.
“I first learned of this problem by reading that 200-plus doctors had joined forces, taking on the dangerous life-threatening COVID falsehoods found in Spotify programming. Most of the listeners hearing the factual, misleading and false COVID information on Spotify are 24 years old, impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth.
“These young people believe Spotify would never present grossly unfactual information. They unfortunately are wrong. I knew I had to try to point that out. Spotify has become the home of life-threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money.”
He noted that other sites, including Amazon, Apple, and Qobuz, continue to host his music while Spotify “continues to peddle the lowest quality in music production.”
“So much for art,” he said.
The Canadian-born Young has been making music since the early sixties through to the present day and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He’s also directed several films and is a prominent activist and supporter of environmental causes and the anti-war movement. He currently gets over 6 million monthly listens on Spotify.
Rogan has hosted his own extended-conversation format podcast since 2009, The Joe Rogan Experience. The podcast typically features, friends of Rogan, celebrities, scientists, and politicians who sit down with the comedian and UFC commentator to riff on topics of the day. Previous guests have included Bernie Sanders, Russell Brand, Elon Musk, Mike Tyson, Alex Jones, Jordan Peterson, Edward Snowden and Neil deGRasse Tyson. To date, Rogan has hosted over 1,700 episodes, usually two-hours plus in length.
His show is frequently cited as helping to start the podcast boom, spawning countless imitations. By 2015, it was one of the most popular podcasts in the world, receiving millions of views per episode, and has been cited as having a notable impact on the outcome of the 2020 US Presidential Election.
Spotify, the largest music streaming service in the world, has long sought to acquire Rogan after expanding its offerings to include podcasts in 2019. They added Rogan to their lineup with exclusive coverage rights in 2020 in a licensing deal thought to be worth US $100 million. Following that announcement, their share price increased by 7%.
Rogan has however long been critical of US health policy and notably refused to get vaccinated, saying that healthy young people should also refuse the jab. He contracted COVID in 2021 and told followers that he was using the unproven horse de-worming medication Ivermectin to treat the illness.
Earlier this month, 270 health care professionals signed an open letter calling on Spotify to counter misinformation being spread on their platform from Rogan and others.
if all artists were as punk rock as Neil Young maybe we wouldn’t be getting absolutely screwed by corporate streaming companies 🥴🥴🥴
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) January 26, 2022
At the time of writing, Young’s music is still available to listen to on Spotify but the company has confirmed that it will be taken down later today.