IN a move that has gripped the music world and raised questions about free speech, capitalism, and Covid-19 misinformation, Spotify has chosen their golden goose, Joe Rogan, over the music of Neil Young, a folk and rock ‘n’ roll legend adored by millions.
Much to the dismay of Young’s adoring fanbase, Spotify made its decision yesterday and removed the Canadian-American’s entire back catalogue from its platform.
An unsurprising move really, considering it’s only been two years since Rogan signed a deal worth over $100m with Spotify, giving them exclusive rights to broadcast the hugely popular Joe Rogan Experience.
The story began earlier this week when Young sent a letter to his management team and record label demanding that they remove his music from Spotify over Joe Rogan’s continuous peddling of vaccine misinformation on his podcast.
“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.”
This highly intriguing showdown between the most popular podcaster in the world and one of rock music’s most influential figures has become an international story, with the streaming service caught right in the middle.
The letter goes on to say, “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. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
While Young’s music is now gone from the platform, the battle is far from over. His claims were supported in a letter sent to the streaming service earlier this month, signed by 270 medical and scientific professionals who called for Spotify to stop spreading Rogan’s unfounded point of view.
Furthermore, the World Health Organisation chief has backed the veteran rockstar and thanked him for “standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies” around Covid-19 vaccinations.
The latest JRE controversy came about when he invited Robert Malone onto the podcast in December, a scientist and widely criticised mRNA vaccine sceptic who has been banned from tweeting after falling foul of Twitter’s Covid-19 misinformation policies. Rogan also drew criticism last year in April when he suggested young healthy people should not get vaccinated.
Neil Young has a history with Spotify and asked for his music to be removed some years ago because he felt the sound quality was too low.
He eventually caved, telling Rolling Stone in 2019: “I want people to hear my music no matter what they have to get through to do it. I’m just trying to make it so they hear a lot more and enjoy it a lot more, but sell it for the same price because music is music.”
Young has responded to Spotify’s decision on his website. In an open letter to his fans, he wrote: “If you support Spotify, you are destroying an art form. Business over art. Spotify plays the artist’s music at 5 per cent of its quality and charges you like it was the real thing.
“Spotify is ripping you off and has been since day 1,” he continued. “Switch to one of the alternatives – companies that support the arts. Real sound is available there. When I left Spotify, I felt better.”