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Spotify Removes All of Neil Young's Music Amid Joe Rogan Controversy: 'So Much for Art'

Musical icon Neil Young issued an ultimatum to the streaming company earlier this week.


The Joe Rogan Experience podcast has long been a reliable source of controversy, especially since the titular host inked an exclusive deal with Spotify in 2020 and started broadcasting his views on Covid transmission and vaccines. Just a few weeks ago, hundreds of doctors and health care professionals penned a letter calling for the streaming platform to “immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation."

Gary Miller | Getty Images

This week, Spotify was called out again, but this time by another artist who streams on their platform — the legendary musician Neil Young, who released a since-deleted statement on Monday addressing his management team that read, “Please immediately inform Spotify that I am actively canceling all my music availability on Spotify as soon as possible. I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. 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 of my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Related: Medical Professionals Call for Spotify to Address 'Joe Rogan Experience' Episode, Citing 'Extraordinarily Dangerous Ramifications'

The letter caused an uproar on social media, split between those who sided with Young and Rogan’s ever-loyal followers. But by Wednesday night, Spotify had made a decision to adhere to Young’s requests and remove all of his music from the platform.

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users," a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "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, who survived polio in his youth and whose son lives with cerebral palsy, subsequently penned a lengthy response on his website citing the aforementioned letter from medical professionals as his introduction to Rogan’s podcast and the host's divisive views. He also noted that Spotify is responsible for 60% of all streaming of his music globally, and that his protest represents a “huge loss” of streaming income.

“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,” Young’s follow-up statement read. “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about Covid.”

Young also noted that his music is still available for streaming on other platforms (Amazon, Apple Music, Qobuz), while calling out Spotify for continuing to “peddle the lowest quality in music reproduction" He quipped, “So much for art. But now that is in the past for me. Soon my music will love on in a better place.”

The Joe Rogan Experience is a major money-maker for Spotify, drawing in an estimated 11 million listeners per episode. More than six million monthly users streamed Young's music on Spotify at the time of its removal. 

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