Spotify will remove Neil Young’s music from its platform at his request after objecting to Joe Rogan’s statements about the COVID-19 vaccine on his Spotify-hosted show. The music is expected to be removed later on Wednesday.
A Spotify representative said in a statement to Variety, “We want all the music and audio content in the world to be available to Spotify users. With that comes a great responsibility to strike a balance between safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and have removed over 20,000 COVID-related podcast episodes since the pandemic began. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify but hope to welcome him back soon.”
Junge Musik is available on his paid website, Neil Young Archives, for between $19.99 (“Classic”) and $99.99 (“Patron”) per year.
A rep for Young did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.
While Young has spoken on many political issues over the course of his six-decade career, his objections to Rogan’s statements about the vaccine have become extraordinarily significant since he published a since-removed open letter to his management, Lookout and label late Monday , Warner Records, and is demanding that his music be removed from Spotify due to the streaming service’s distribution partnership with Rogan. In the letter, he accused Rogan and Spotify of spreading false information about COVID-19 and vaccines.
“Please notify Spotify immediately that I am terminating all my music availability on Spotify as soon as possible,” he wrote. “I’m doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines – potentially causing death for those who believe the disinformation is being spread by them.
“Please act on it immediately today and keep me updated on the schedule,” the statement continued. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately today that I want all my music removed from their platform. You can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Some public health officials have also called on Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing the hugely popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience of having a “worrying history of spreading misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Young has previously removed his music from Spotify, but not because of political issues: he pulled his entire catalog from all streaming services in 2015 because of what he felt was inadequate sound quality. “I don’t need my music to be belittled by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” he wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “I don’t feel right about allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.” He launched his own high-quality music player, Pono, which struggled before Young shut it down in 2017 and instead focused on his Archives website.
The Joe Rogan Experience is currently the audio streaming service’s most listened-to podcast. Rogan signed a $100 million deal in May 2020 that gave Spotify the exclusive distribution rights (but not ownership) of his podcast.
This story first appeared on Variety.com.