Spotify has begun to remove Neil Young’s music following the rocker’s protest of dissemination of Covid-19 misinformation on the streamer’s Joe Rogan’s podcast. Both Young, who shared a letter on his website, and Spotify confirmed the news in separate statements.
On Monday, Young posted a since-deleted letter on his website addressed to his management and record label demanding his music be removed from Spotify, noting that the company can have “Rogan or Young. Not both.” The Wall Street Journal first reported the news that Spotify will take down Young’s catalog. Spotify begun to remove Neil Young’s catalog Wednesday evening.
In Young’s new letter, he blasts Spotify as “a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about Covid.” He thanked his label Warner Records for standing by his decision and noted that a majority of his streaming revenue comes from Spotify.
“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,” Young wrote. “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.” (Shrewdly capitalizing on the opportunity, SiriusXM announced that Young’s entire catalog would be available on their Neil Young Radio station starting Thursday.)
In a follow-up letter posted just after his initial announcement, Young thanked Merck Mercuriadis and his company Hipgnosis Songs fund, which bought a 50 percent stake in Young’s publishing rights last year. He also called Spotify founder Daniel Ek his friend and said he was disappointed Ek had “taken the steps he has taken because it stopped my music from being shared on his SPOTIFY platform.” (A rep for Mercuriadis did not reply to a request for comment, but his Hipgnosis Studios posted a screenshot of Young’s open letter on Instagram on Tuesday with the message, ‘GO OFF NEIL’ and five clapping emojis.)
Young concluded his initial letter by calling for more artists and companies to take a similar stance and take their music off of Spotify to “stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about Covid.” (A rep for Young declined to comment.)
Rogan has stirred up considerable controversy on his show for platforming anti-vaccine theories. Hundreds of doctors signed a letter earlier this month demanding Spotify do more about Covid misinformation on the platform following Rogan’s podcast episode featuring Dr. Robert Malone, in which Malone spouted false statements about the Covid vaccine. Spotify bought the rights to Rogan’s podcast last year and has since drawn heavy criticism over its responsibility to moderate the content it owns.
“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
Neil Young’s Full Statement on Spotify Removal
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.