Spotify Removes Neil Young’s Music After His Ultimatum About Joe Rogan
Spotify started removing Neil Young's music from the streaming platform on Wednesday (Jan. 26) after the veteran singer-songwriter gave the company an ultimatum — remove Joe Rogan or lose him.
By the following morning, Young's Spotify page no longer displayed his studio albums. The outcome arrived after Young on Tuesday (Jan. 25) published and then removed a letter on his website that said Spotify "can have Rogan or Young. Not both." Young explained it was "because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation."
Now, in two new letters Young shared Wednesday on his Neil Young Archives site, the rocker behind classics such as "Heart of Gold" and "Harvest Moon" estimated he'd lose 60 percent of his streaming revenue. He thanked his record label, Warner Music Group, for standing by him.
"Spotify has recently become a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about COVID," Young 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 unfactual, 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." (via Rolling Stone)
He continued, "Before I told my friends at Warner Bros. about my desire to leave the Spotify platform, I was reminded by my own legal forces that contractually I did not have the control of my music to do that. I announced I was leaving anyway, because I knew I was. I was prepared to do all I could and more just to make sure that happened. I want to thank my truly great and supportive record company Warner Bros./Reprise Records, for standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify. Thank You!"
Young added, "Spotify represents 60 percent of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world, almost every record I have ever released is available — my life's music — a huge loss for my record company to absorb. Yet my friends at Warner Bros./Reprise stood with me, recognizing the threat the COVID misinformation on Spotify."
Rogan has made headlines with polarizing vaccination views from his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, an exclusive to Spotify since 2020. (via NPR)
In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify 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."
Technically, Young already has his own bespoke streaming music service, the aforementioned Neil Young Archives, were subscribers can access all of his music in high resolution audio.
His Spotify removal has underscored the battle over misinformation and free speech online. It's also raised questions about the power of artists to control where they're heard. (via The New York Times)
Read Young's two new letters below.
"Spotify: In the Name of Truth" - Jan. 26, 2022
SPOTIFY has recently become a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about COVID.
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 unfactual, 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.
All my music is available on SPOTIFY, being sold to these young people, people who believe what they are hearing because it is on SPOTIFY, and people like me are supporting SPOTIFY by presenting my music there.
I realized I could not continue to support SPOTIFY’s life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.
Before I told my friends at Warner Bros about my desire to leave the SPOTIFY platform, I was reminded by my own legal forces that contractually I did not have the control of my music to do that. I announced I was leaving anyway, because I knew I was. I was prepared to do all I could and more just to make sure that happened.
I want to thank my truly great and supportive record company Warner Brothers - Reprise Records, for standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify. Thank You!
Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world, almost every record I have ever released is available - my life’s music - a huge loss for my record company to absorb. Yet my friends at WARNER BROTHERS REPRISE stood with me, recognizing the threat the COVID misinformation on SPOTIFY posed to the world - particularly for our young people who think everything they hear on SPOTIFY is true. Unfortunately it is not.
Thank you WARNER BROTHERS for standing with me and taking the hit - losing 60% of my world wide streaming income in the name of Truth.
SPOTIFY has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money.
There is an upside for my listeners, people who may be listening to the 60 years of music I have made in my life so far. It is this: many other platforms, Amazon, Apple, and Qobuz, to name a few, present my music today in all its High-Resolution glory - the way it is intended to be heard, while unfortunately SPOTIFY continues to peddle the lowest quality in music reproduction. So much for art. But now that is in the past for me. Soon my music will live on in a better place.
I truly want to thank the many, many people who have reached out to me thanking me for taking this position - people who are health professionals on the front lines, people who have lost loved ones to COVID or who are worried for their own children and families. I have never felt so much love coming from so many.
I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the SPOTIFY platform and stop supporting SPOTIFY’s deadly misinformation about COVID.
In the name of Truth.
"Thanks for Standing With Me" - Jan. 26, 2022
I want to thank my partners for standing with me.
My deal with Merck Mercuriadis and HIPGNOSIS began on January 1, 2021. The company HIPGNOSIS now has part of my publishing and I am very happy with their support. I want to personally thank Merck and HIPGNOSIS for standing with me. Losing 60% of worldwide streaming income by leaving SPOTIFY is a very big deal, a costly move, but worth it for our integrity and our beliefs. Misinformation about COVID is over the line.
My good friends at WARNER BROTHERS - REPRISE also stand by me and I love them for it. Misinformation about COVID cannot be accepted. I sincerely hope that other artists can make a move, but I can’t really expect that to happen. I did this because I had no choice in my heart. It is who I am. I am not censoring anyone. I am speaking my own truth. I know Daniel Ek who owns SPOTIFY, a private business. I like Daniel. I wish he had not taken the steps he has taken because it stopped my music from being shared on his SPOTIFY platform. It stopped us from working together to spread the music. But we are still friends.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC stood by me too! I am so thankful for the conscience of Michele Anthony, Bruce Resnikoff, UNIVERSAL MUSIC and all these big Music organizations, stepping up and delivering with me. I truly appreciate your help and support. I encourage you to do all you can to stop SPOTIFY from spreading dangerous life threatening misinformation about COVID.
Music is our life. It is sacred. It lives in young minds and souls. Do not let SPOTIFY contaminate those young music loving spirits with misinformation that could cause death. We need to stand behind the spirit of music and protect music lovers everywhere. Thanks so much for being there and standing with me!
Again, WARNER BROTHERS, UNIVERSAL and HIPGNOSIS, my great partners, are standing with me to help stop the flow of misinformation from SPOTIFY. Thanks so much to all of you. We did what we had to do.