Jan 26, 2022 - Economy

Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Neil Young performing

Neil Young performs on Day 2 of Festival d'ete de Quebec on July 6, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada. Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images

Spotify on Wednesday confirmed it will remove Neil Young's music from its platform, after the singer demanded that the streaming giant take it down in response to vaccine misinformation being spread by Joe Rogan, a popular podcaster on the platform.

Why it matters: Young is the first high-profile artist to boycott Spotify because of content moderation issues.

What they're saying: “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users," said a Spotify spokesperson. "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-19 since the start of the pandemic."
  • "We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”
  • The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

Young confirmed the news in a statement on his website on Wednesday, saying he "could not continue to support Spotify's life threatening misinformation to the music loving public."

  • "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," Young said.
  • "I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify's deadly misinformation about COVID."

Catch up quick: Young initially posted a letter addressed to his website Monday night, demanding that Spotify pull his music from its service.

  • In the letter, addressed to his management team and record label, Young singled out Rogan for his role in spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
  • “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both," he wrote in the letter, which was not on his website by Tuesday morning.

The big picture: Spotify has faced increased pressure to address the way it moderates content in the wake of anti-vaccination comments made by Rogan, who signed an exclusive multi-year deal with the platform in 2020.

  • Earlier this month, hundreds of scientists and public health professionals posted an open letter to Spotify asking the company to better handle vaccine misinformation on its service, singling out Rogan's show for "promoting baseless conspiracy theories."

Worth noting: During an appearance on the Axios Re:Cap podcast last year, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said he does not believe Spotify has editorial responsibility for what is said on its podcasts, including "The Joe Rogan Experience."

What to watch: Whether other major artists follow Young's lead.

Go deeper: Spotify has a Joe Rogan dilemma

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