Neil Young’s doing just fine. The legendary rock musician, known worldwide for writing some of the most beautiful and poignant music of the 20th century, is pulling his music from Spotify, following a public ultimatum he gave the streamer earlier this week. Young, who already has his own streaming service, the Neil Young Archives, which boasts just about anything a fan could want and more, doesn’t want to share space with The Joe Rogan Experience, Spotify’s exclusive and massively popular super spreader of misinformation about vaccines and COVID. As a result, he’s instructed his label and management to pull his catalog.
In a letter posted to his website earlier today, Young explained his thinking and expressed gratitude toward his record label, Warner Bros.-Reprise Records, for honoring his wishes and pulling the music.
“Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners are around the world,” he wrote, “almost every record I habe 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 Spotify posed to the world.”
“Spotify has become the home of life-threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money.”
Young first made his decision after a group of more than 200 medical professionals, scientists, academics, and health care workers sent an open letter to Spotify, demanding they remove Rogan’s podcast. Here’s an excerpt:
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 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.
Spotify responded to Young’s departure through a statement to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story. “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” said a spokesperson for Spotify. “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.”
Interestingly, they did not mention Rogan or the letter from scientists or what episodes of JRE they removed. Why mess up a good thing, right? Spotify paid upwards of $100 million for the exclusive rights to the podcast equivalent of huffing glue while reading The Bible Code, and they’ll get their money’s worth.
And money’s worth they’re getting. This last week, Rogan and infamous quack Jordan Peterson spent time denying humanity’s role in climate change (because what is “climate” anyway, man) and dabbling in some very sketchy race science.
In this latest installment in a steady stream of embarrassing Rogan clips, the two discuss Professor Michael Eric Dyson, a Peterson critic, who called him “a mean, angry white man,” which Rogan finds “hilarious” because Peterson’s “not mean at all.” Peterson agrees because he’s not actually white. He’s tan! The two appear to get around to their point by saying that Dyson was “actually not Black” but rather “sort of brown.” Ultimately, Rogan takes it upon himself sets the rules for what it means to be Black, stipulating that “unless you are talking to someone who is like 100% African from the darkest place where they are not wearing any clothes all day” you aren’t Black. Honestly, that glue huffing is starting to sound pretty good right now.
So anyway, Neil Young won’t be on the same platform as these knuckleheads, which is just as well. Neil, who wrote the songs “Harvest Moon,” “Heart Of Gold,” and “Cinnamon Girl,” doesn’t have much to prove these days and probably doesn’t need the fractions of pennies Spotify streams bring in.
As for where people can hear his music, it’s still available elsewhere. “Many other platforms, Amazon, Apple, Qobuz, to name a few, present my music today in all its High-Resolution glory—the way it was meant to be heard,” Young wrote. “Unfortunately, Spotify continues to peddle the lowest quality in music reproduction. So much for art.”
At 76, Neil Young continues to be a real one.