Why Spotify Will Not Stream Neil Young’s Music Anymore


Feature Image: “Why Spotify Can’t Afford to Lose Joe Rogan.” The Verge, 2022

Why Spotify Won’t Stream Neil Young’s Music Anymore
Regina Jiang

In a war between free speech and misinformation, which side will win?

Neil Young, renowned Canadian singer, songwriter, and guitarist has recently pulled all his music from Spotify, a digital streaming service. Young is known for some of his classic hits such as “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man” (Goodman, 2022). Seeing as 60% of Young’s total listeners are from Spotify, pulling all his music seems to be quite a dramatic move. So what has Spotify done for this 76 year old (and many other artists following suit) to do all this?

The issue here lies with one of Spotify’s most popular podcasters, Joe Rogan. Rogan’s podcast, known as The Joe Rogan Experience, has been sparking controversies regarding covid-19 which has enraged Young. In addition to inviting Dr. Malone, a “virologist” specializing in Covid vaccines but ended up deliberately sharing misinformation, Rogan has promoted taking ivermectin for covid instead of the proper vaccines despite having no scientific evidence to back it up.

270 proper doctors, physicians, and scientists have written letters to Spotify to call them out on this misinformation (Qureshi, 2022). According to Young’s point of view, Spotify is spreading misinformation on their platform and causing harm to the listeners who may act upon Spotify’s words. With an average of 11 million listeners per episode, Joe Rogan has a huge influence on his listeners (Popli, 2022). Many other artists have followed Young and pulled their own songs in revolt, including Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, Ava DuVernay, and India Arie (Clevinger 2022)

Spotify lost more than $2 billion in market value when Young left. However, Young leaving their platform is not as bad as you may think. Spotify is not financially dependent on Young’s music – on the contrary, Spotify loses money whenever someone listens to Young’s song. That is one of the reasons why Spotify took up podcasting. If someone like Drake or Taylor Swift removed their songs from Spotify, then it might be more of a financial crisis for the platform but removing a few older aged musicians who are not as popular nowadays do essentially nothing to Spotify (Carman, 2022). However, from January 26th – 28th, Spotify’s shares fell 6% (Spangler, 2022). More people are listening to Young now that they’re hearing about this fight.

Young has now encouraged workers to stop working for Spotify. He states that Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder and CEO, is the problem because he pulls the strings, not Joe Rogan. This “battle” between Young and Spotify is deeper than you may think (Greene, 2022). It’s not just Young disapproving of Rogan’s podcast, it’s a fight between freedom of speech and misinformation. We are all allowed to have our own freedom of speech, but at what cost? With someone as powerful and influential as Joe Rogan, shouldn’t he be talking about true things instead of spreading misinformations that could possibly cost death? As of today, Young’s songs are still pulled from Spotify. Any song that you may see on Spotify’s current list is not the original. What do you think of all this, as the reader? Did Young do the right thing? Who do you agree with?

Works Cited:
“Ava DuVernay Is the Latest Artist to Follow Neil Young’s Exit from Spotify Because of Joe Rogan.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2022, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-01-30/spotify-joe-rogan-covid-neil-young-list-of-artists.
Carman, Ashley. “Why Spotify Can’t Afford to Lose Joe Rogan.” The Verge, The Verge, 27 Jan. 2022, https://www.theverge.com/2022/1/27/22904463/joe-rogan-spotify-neil-young-decision-moderation-podcasts.
Clevinger, Nina. “Which Celebrities Have Had Their Music Pulled from Spotify?” The US Sun, The US Sun, 5 Feb. 2022, https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/4621500/celebrities-pulled-off-spotify-music/.
Goodman, Shalom. “Neil Young, Joe Rogan Podcast and Spotify: What to Know.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 2 Feb. 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-rogan-podcast-neil-young-spotify-what-to-know-11643663216.
Greene, Andy. “Neil Young Tells Spotify Employees to Quit before ‘It Eats up Your Soul’.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 7 Feb. 2022, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/neil-young-climate-change-1296366/.
Hussey, Allison. “Neil Young Tells Spotify Workers to Quit Their Jobs.” Pitchfork, Pitchfork, 7 Feb. 2022, https://pitchfork.com/news/neil-young-tells-spotify-workers-to-quit-their-jobs/.
Popli, Nik. “Spotify’s Joe Rogan Controversy Isn’t over Yet.” Time, Time, 11 Feb. 2022, https://time.com/6147548/spotify-joe-rogan-controversy-isnt-over/.
Qureshi, Arusa, et al. “270 Scientists Write Letter to Spotify on Joe Rogan’s ‘Dangerous’ Covid Misinformation.” NME, 14 Jan. 2022, https://www.nme.com/en_asia/news/music/270-scientists-write-letter-to-spotify-on-joe-rogans-dangerous-covid-misinformation-3137368.
Sisario, Ben. “Spotify Is Removing Neil Young Songs after He Complains of ‘Misinformation’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/arts/music/spotify-neil-young-joe-rogan.html.
Spangler, Todd. “Spotify Lost More than $2 Billion in Market Value after Neil Young Pulled His Music over Joe Rogan’s Podcast.” Variety, Variety, 30 Jan. 2022, https://variety.com/2022/digital/news/spotify-2-billion-market-cap-neil-young-joe-rogan-1235166798/.
Steele, Anne, and John Jurgensen. “Inside Spotify’s Joe Rogan Crisis.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 4 Feb. 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/spotify-joe-rogan-neil-young-covid-vaccine-11643987429.