It took two weeks but Neil Young finally expunged the vast majority of his catalog from streaming services. On July 15th, the rocker issued a pair of Facebook posts deriding the audio quality of streaming services and alerting fans that he’d pull all of his albums from Apple Music, Spotify and the like. “It’s about sound quality. I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” Young wrote. At some point over the weekend, Young made good on his promise as his albums began vanishing from streaming services, Variety reports.
As of this writing, only Young’s five Geffen LP from the Eighties – 1982’s Trans, 1983’s Everybody’s Rockin’, 1985’s Old Ways, 1986’s Landing on Water and 1987’s Life, as well as the Geffen era rarities compilation Lucky Thirteen – are all still available on multiple streaming services. Young’s Dead Man soundtrack, released via Vapor Records, also remains on services, but everything else, including his latest LP The Monsanto Years, has been stripped from streaming libraries.
While Young may be anti-streaming, Geffen’s parent company Universal – which no longer has ties to the rocker since he rejoined Warner Music’s Reprise in 1989 – likely didn’t feel obligated to grant Young’s wishes regarding his streamed catalog. (Young and Geffen infamously sparred in the Eighties, with the label accusing him of handing them “musically uncharacteristic” and “not commercial” albums that were unlike his Seventies catalog. Geffen later sued Young for $3.3 million; Young countersued for $21 million. They eventually settled out of court.)
In Young’s anti-streaming posts, the musician stated that while his catalog removal wasn’t about the money, he acknowledged – like Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke before him – that his share of royalties were “dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.” However, Young hinted that he’d be willing to return his albums to services if the audio quality was improved.
“AM radio kicked streaming’s ass. Analog cassettes and 8 tracks also kicked streaming’s ass, and absolutely rocked compared to streaming,” Young wrote. “Streaming sucks. Streaming is the worst audio in history. If you want it, you got it. It’s here to stay. Your choice.”