Yesterday, Neil Young made headlines for threatening to remove his music from Spotify over comments that comedian Joe Rogan (and his podcast guests) made about COVID-19 vaccines. Now, the Stockholm-based platform has officially started taking down the “Heart of Gold” singer-songwriter’s tracks.
76-year-old Neil Young took aim at Spotify – which inked a reportedly $100 million podcast deal with Joe Rogan back in May of 2020 – in an open letter posted on his website. In the since-deleted post, the “Old Man” artist made clear that the music-streaming giant would have to choose between The Joe Rogan Experience and his songs.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” wrote Young. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” the firmly worded ultimatum continued. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Notwithstanding the message’s aforementioned deletion from the website of Neil Young, the “Down by the River” artist evidently held firm with his demands – as did Spotify, which is preparing to remove the Toronto native’s work.
“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,” a Spotify spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. “We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”
Meanwhile, Young today penned a series of additional posts about the much-publicized situation. One of the pieces, entitled “Thanks For Standing With Me,” explains that both Hipgnosis (which bought a 50 percent stake in Young’s catalog last year) and his record label supported the decision to exit Spotify, on which he boasted 6.09 million monthly listeners.
“I want to thank my partners for standing with me,” wrote Neil Young. “My deal with Merck Mercuriadis and HIPGNOSIS began on Jan 1, 2021. The company HIPGNOSIS now has part of my publishing and I am very happy with their support.
“I want to personally thank Merck and HIPGNOSIS for standing with me. Losing 60% of worldwide streaming income by leaving SPOTIFY is a very big deal, a costly move, but worth it for our integrity and our beliefs. Misinformation about COVID is over the line.
“My good friends at WARNER BROTHERS – REPRISE also stand by me and I love them for it. Misinformation about COVID cannot be accepted. I sincerely hope that other artists can make a move, but I can’t really expect that to happen.
“I did this because I had no choice in my heart. It is who I am. I am not censoring anyone. I am speaking my own truth. I know Daniel Ek who owns SPOTIFY, a private business. I like Daniel. I wish he had not taken the steps he has taken because it stopped my music from being shared on his SPOTIFY platform. It stopped us from working together to spread the music. But we are still friends,” the message continues.
In another article published today, entitled “Spotify In the Name of Truth,” Young criticized Spotify’s audio quality and business model, writing in part: “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,” penned Young, whose failure to mention HD-audio streaming platform Tidal could have something to do with their previous dispute.
At the time of this piece’s writing, Spotify hadn’t yet taken down Young’s music, and Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis, Warner Music Group, Joe Rogan, Spotify, and Daniel Ek alike didn’t seem to have commented on the situation on Twitter.