Spotify sides with Joe Rogan, agrees to remove Neil Young’s music from service

American Age Official

This past Monday, Neil Young publicly demanded that Spotify remove his music. While Young famously withdrew much of his catalog from the streaming service years ago because he was dissatisfied with the sound quality, this new request was for an entirely different reason: his outrage over Spotify’s popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, which Young argued has been “spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.”

In his open letter, the “This Note’s for You” singer wrote: “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

It took two days, but according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Spotify is now heeding the musician’s ultimatum — siding with Rogan in this feud and removing the more than 40 Young albums that, as of Jan. 26, were still available to stream on the service. Young’s management lodged a formal request with Spotify on Wednesday to delete those albums, according to WSJ, although the removal process may take several hours to compete.

Neil Young performs in 2016. (Photo: Reuters)Neil Young performs in 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Neil Young performs in 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Young’s original Jan. 24 letter, addressed to his manager and a Warner Music executive, first appeared on his Neil Young Archives website, but it has since been taken down. However, on Wednesday the classic rock legend published a new letter on his site, titled “Spotify: In the Name of Truth,” which as of press time is still available online.

In that second screed, Young passionately explained, “I realized I could not continue to support Spotify’s life-threatening misinformation to a music-loving public.” He thanked his “truly great and supportive record company,” Warner Bros./Reprise, for “standing with me and taking the hit,” noting that Spotify “represents 60 percent” of his music globally and the wholesale removal of his catalog from the service will be “a huge loss for my record company to absorb.”

Young has made almost all of his recording output available in high-quality audio format on the Neil Young Archives site, his own Xstream platform that in 2018 he described to Yahoo Entertainment as “best-sounding streaming service in the world.” In Wednesday’s letter, he noted that for now, his 60 years’ worth of music will still be available on other services like Apple, Amazon, and Qobuz “in all its high-resolution glory — the way it is intended to be heard,” but added, “Soon my music will live on in a better place.”

In 2020, Spotify forged a $100 million deal with Rogan to exclusively host The Joe Rogan Experience, which has come under fire for allegedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. On Jan. 12, 270 doctors, scientists, and educators published their own open letter urging Spotify to “immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform”; their letter specifically cited a Joe Rogan Experience episode featuring immunologist Dr. Robert Malone, who they said had spread “several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines,” including a claim that vaccines using mRNA technology don’t work. Rogan’s podcast draws an estimated 11 million listeners per episode.

“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,” a Spotify spokesperson told Yahoo Entertainment in an emailed statement.

A representative for Young did not immediately respond to Yahoo’s request for comment.

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