A new development in the Neil Young versus Spotify story today, as eight-time Grammy winner Joni Mitchell becomes the latest artist to demand her music be removed from the streaming platform over vaccine misinformation spread by Spotify’s Joe Rogan Experience
The Canadian singer, whose heyday reached its peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, posted a statement on her website on Friday titled: “I Stand With Neil Young!”
“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” the statement read. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue. —Joni Mitchell”.
78-year-old Mitchell, whose 1971 album Blue is regarded by many as one of the greatest of all time, is the first high-profile artist to join Young in his stand against the streaming giant.
The pair both grew to prominence in the Canadian folk scene and have been friends for nearly six decades, so her support comes as little surprise.
But this will be a worrying moment for Spotify as furore around the issue grows, with the ‘boycott Spotify’ movement will continue to gain traction online.
Young demanded his music be removed by the platform earlier this week when he sent an open letter to his management team and record label.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
48 hours later, Spotify had removed Young’s entire back catalogue.
“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” the company said in a statement. “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-19 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 since replied to the decision on his website via a new letter after receiving a barrage of criticism predominantly from the anti-vaccine crowd who accuse him of censorship.
“I support free speech,” he wrote. “I have never been in favour of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”
So far Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are the only two high-profile artists to take a public stand against Spotify, though Peter Framton and David Crosby have both shown public support for Young.
Spotify’s share of the US music market rose from 7 per cent in 2010 to 83 per cent in 2020, which will discourage lots of younger artists from following suit, but after Mitchell’s statement, it’s entirely possible that other artists are planning action against the streaming giant.