Neil Young Takes a Stand Against Spotify (UPDATED)

L-R: Neil Young, Joe Rogan
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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Neil Young issued a scathing statement against Spotify on Jan. 24 requesting his music be removed from the streaming service - a request the service honored two days later.

The announcement came in the form of an open letter to his management and label Warner Records, posted to his website but since removed. "I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform," the letter read in part. "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. Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule."

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Young's comments are directed primarily at actor/comedian Joe Rogan, who moved his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, exclusively to Spotify in 2020 - a deal reportedly worth upward of $100 million. Though it's the most popular podcast on the app, Rogan has come under fire for his open skepticism of (and frequently disproven claims about) the COVID-19 vaccine - a stance that caused 250 scientists, doctors and nurses to sign a similarly critical open letter to the service only weeks ago.

"They can have Rogan or Young," the folk-rock icon stated. "Not both."

Multiple sources confirmed on Wednesday (Jan. 26) that Spotify had honored Young's request, with most of his catalog gone by the end of that day. They issued this statement in response:

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-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 would issue a follow-up statement of his own, thanking his team for honoring his request and pointing to other places where his music could be streamed. "Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world, almost every record I have released is available...a huge loss for my record company," he wrote. "Yet my friends at Warner Brothers/Reprise stood with me, recognizing the threat COVID misinformation on Spotify posed to the world - particularly for our young people who think everything they hear on Spotify is true."

Known for his outspoken views on conservative politics, environmentalism and recorded audio quality, Young's last album was Barn, recorded with longtime backing band Crazy Horse and released in 2021. Recent projects have also included his long-awaited second volume of the Archives series in 2020 and an "Official Bootleg Series" of material, starting with a live show recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1970.

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