The 76-year-old’s music has been removed from Spotify after he protested against the spread of misinformation about coronavirus on The Joe Rogan Experience, which is one of the platform’s most popular shows.
This week, Young published a since-removed open letter addressed to his manager and record label, which said: “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, [The Joe Rogan Experience], 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.”
He added: “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.”
Young said Rogan’s podcast was spreading “false information” about Covid-19 vaccines that was “potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them”.
A Spotify spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday 26 January that Young’s music was being removed from its platform. His music has since been returned to SiriusXM in the US.
“Siding with Joe Rogan over Neil Young has to be history’s greatest L [loss],” one fan wrote in a widely shared tweet.
“Neil Young is a hero. That’s all. That’s the tweet,” activist and author Amy Siskind wrote.
“If all artists were as punk rock as Neil Young maybe we wouldn’t be getting absolutely screwed by corporate streaming companies,” musician Margo Price tweeted.
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British singer Kate Nash commented: “I really admire Neil Young for pulling his music from Spotify.”
Writer and comedian Tom Scharpling wrote: “Love the clowns who are laughing as if Neil Young ever thought Spotify would drop Joe Rogen. The guy took a stand, put his money where his mouth is. Forced a s****y company to make a true colours-revealing decision. This is just one of the many reasons Neil is an all-timer.”
Comedian Christopher Titus said he had deleted his Spotify account, commenting: “[Spotify] pulled all comics stuff a month ago because they didn’t want to pay them and I’m not up for supporting insane disinformation. Listening to Neil Young.”
The Independent has contacted Spotify for comment.
“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,” the streaming service said in its statement yesterday.
“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.”
In the wake of Young’s letter, his fans have shared excerpts of the musician’s memoir in which he opened up about having polio when he was a child.
Earlier this month, 270 members of the science and medical community wrote an open letter to Spotify, saying that Rogan allowing the claims to go unchecked can “damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals”.
“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the letter stated.