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Spotify support buckles under complaints from angry Neil Young fans

Neil Young's fans aren't happy that the rocker's music is no longer available on Spotify.
Enlarge / Neil Young’s fans aren’t happy that the rocker’s music is no longer available on Spotify.

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Neil Young was mad. Now his fans are, too, and they’re telling Spotify about it.

Earlier this week, Young had asked the music-streaming service to remove his music from its library in response to COVID misinformation aired on Joe Rogan’s podcast, which is available only on Spotify. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young wrote on his website. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Spotify complied with the request, which ultimately came from Warner Brothers, Young’s label. Though the loss of Young’s music likely represents a small percentage of overall streams on Spotify, Young pointed out that “Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world.” 

For Young and his fans, the hit was palpable, and his fans are apparently taking their frustrations out on Spotify. The hashtag #SpotifyDeleted trended on Twitter yesterday, and fans seem to have inundated customer support with so many messages that Spotify has had to take it offline at times.

“We’re currently getting a lot of contacts so may be slow to respond,” a large red banner has read on the support page. Options to message the company, which have previously included live chat with a customer support agent or a chat bot, are now limited to an email address link.

In the wake of Young’s departure from Spotify, Apple Music trolled its competitor, tweeting that it is “the home of Neil Young” and releasing a playlist titled “We Love Neil.”

The brouhaha can be traced back to 2020, when Spotify reportedly paid more than $100 million to obtain an exclusive license to Joe Rogan’s podcast and its archives. Rogan, the podcaster, UFC color commentator, and former actor, is no stranger to controversy. He has repeatedly urged his younger listeners not to get vaccinated and has touted ivermectin as a COVID treatment. (Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat or prevent COVID. Its list of side effects is long.) Rogan has also hosted a variety of conspiracy theorists (including Alex Jones), has given voice to anti-trans views, and has falsely claimed that “left-wing people” started forest fires in the West.

“When I left Spotify, I felt better,” Young wrote on his website today. “I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”

The artist, who has long criticized audio quality on streaming services, and on Spotify in particular, closed with one last dig. “As an unexpected bonus, I sound better everywhere else,” he wrote.

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