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Spotify says it will remove Neil Young’s music instead of dropping Joe Rogan

Neil Young playing guitar on stage.
Enlarge / Neil Young performs at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island during Farm Aid 30 on September 19, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois.

Getty Images | Raymond Boyd

With Neil Young having told Spotify that it can keep him or podcaster Joe Rogan but not both, the streaming company today said it will remove Young’s catalog of music.

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” Spotify said in a statement to Deadline and other media organizations. “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. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify but hope to welcome him back soon.”

Young’s music was still on Spotify as of this writing but will presumably be removed soon unless either Young or Spotify change their minds. Objecting to misinformation about COVID aired on Rogan’s podcast, Young told Warner Records this week that Spotify “has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform.”

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Young thanks Warner for backing him

Young posted an update today thanking Warner. “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!” Young wrote. Young said this is “a huge loss for my record company to absorb” given that “Spotify represents 60 percent of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world.”

“I could not continue to support Spotify’s life-threatening misinformation to the music loving public… Spotify has become the home of life-threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money,” Young also wrote.

Young wrote that before he went public about wanting his music off Spotify, “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.”

Young, a long-time proponent of high-resolution music files, also wrote that “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.”

Open letter slammed Spotify for hosting Rogan

Young’s action came shortly after hundreds of scientists, professors, doctors, and healthcare workers wrote an open letter to Spotify about Rogan’s podcast. They wrote:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Rogan has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine. He has discouraged vaccination in young people and children, incorrectly claimed that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy,” promoted off-label use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 (contrary to FDA warnings), and spread a number of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. In episode #1757, Rogan hosted Dr. Robert Malone, who was suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

Dr. Malone used the JRE [Joe Rogan Experience] platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have “hypnotized” the public. Many of these statements have already been discredited. Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust. These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.

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