Spotify begins removing Neil Young's music in protest over Joe Rogan 'disinformation'

Singer has music removed from platform over popular podcaster's misleading Covid-19 information

Neil Young’s music will be removed from Spotify at his request, following the veteran rock star’s protest over the streaming service airing a popular podcast that featured a figure criticized for spreading Covid misinformation.

"We regret Neil's decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon," Spotify said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Young published a second letter to his website, thanking his record company, Warner's Reprise Records for their support "in the name of truth".

He said Spotify accounts for 60 per cent of his music's global streaming income.

Young has deemed the stand worth it: "Spotify has become the home of life-threatening Covid misinformation," he wrote. "Lies being sold for money."

"I realized I could not continue to support Spotify's life-threatening misinformation to the music loving public."

Young earlier in the week made his demand because he says Spotify allows the spread of vaccine misinformation via popular podcaster Joe Rogan.

“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 the singer behind hits like Heart of Gold and Harvest Moon.

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young continued in an open letter to the company. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

The letter, which has since been removed from Young's website, was first reported by Rolling Stone late on Monday.

Rogan's podcast racks up millions of listens — he signed a reported $100 million deal with Spotify last year — but critics say his show peddles conspiracy theories and misinformation, particularly about Covid-19.

The podcast host has discouraged vaccination in younger people and promoted the off-label use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to treat the virus.

A December 31 programme featured Robert Malone, a doctor who has called himself the “inventor” of mRNA vaccines, which serve as the basis for some Covid-19 vaccines.

Dr Malone was banned from Twitter for circulating anti-vaccine misinformation. YouTube deleted a recording of Rogan's interview with Dr Malone shortly after it was uploaded to the website by a third party.

Singer Neil Young performing in 2018 on left; and Joe Rogan speaking in 2021 on right. AFP

Since the start of the pandemic, Spotify has removed 20,000 podcast episodes containing Covid-19 misinformation and the company has deleted more than 40 episodes of Rogan's podcast — which has an estimated 11 million listeners — to date.

In December, 270 doctors, physicians and professors also sent an open letter to Spotify asking the service to “moderate misinformation on its platform".

“It is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” read the letter.

Young, citing sound quality issues, removed much of his music from Spotify in 2015 but later relented, saying “that's where people get music".

He has his own online archive of all of his music that fans can subscribe to.

Updated: January 26, 2022, 11:48 PM
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