Neil Young’s music is gone from Spotify over Joe Rogan controversy

Earlier this week, Neil Young laid down an ultimatum to Spotify: “It’s either Joe Rogan or me!” And now Uncle Neil has followed through with his threat to yank all his music from the platform. Or at least Spotify is in the process of removing all his music.

To recap, Neil is outraged at the misinformation and disinformation being disseminated by Spotify’s $100 million-dollar man.

In his now-deleted letter to his management, he wrote “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. With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”

For the record, Neil Young has six million monthly listeners and 2.4 million followers on Spotify, per the Wall Street Journal.

Spotify released this statement (via the Washington Post):

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. 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.”

Not a surprise here, given that Joe Rogan is a Spotify exclusive and is the biggest podcast in the world.

Meanwhile, Neil says that his Spotify boycott will cost him 60% of his income. But he seems committed. Good for him for sticking to his truth.

We’ll see where this goes. Will people bail on Spotify for other services? Or will other artists, those with bigger streaming footprints (say, Drake, The Weeknd, Imagine Dragons, Justin Bieber) join him? If they do, that could move Spotify to act. Maybe. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Still, Spotify is going to face more situations like this in the future.

UPDATE: Rand Paul is a jerk. Meanwhile, Bob Lefsetz has some insightful comments on the entire controversy.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Neil Young’s music is gone from Spotify over Joe Rogan controversy

  • January 27, 2022 at 10:44 am

    More accurately …..

    Big time pharma supporter Neil Young’s music has been removed from Spotify over over podcaster who interviewed two doctors that had valid arguments and questions about the big pharma/government covid narrative. One of the doctors was one of the major creators of the mRNA vaccines and was vaccinated himself but has been targeted as being anti-vax?

    I doubt that Neil actually listened to the episodes in question. And if he has such an issue with things why no go on the Rogan show? Rogan would 100% have him on just like he had on James Wilks to defend his movie “Game Changers” when Chris Kresser was on to bash the movie.

  • January 27, 2022 at 11:06 am

    100% my same thoughts. Anyone who critisizes Joe Rogan has not listened to him at all. His interviews are very well balanced. He repeatedly says he isn’t against vaccines and many of his recent guests are very highly respected researchers, scientists and doctors who have valid, resonable and important view points that should not be muted simply because they question the narrative or question the scientific methodology. Science is by nature, supposed to be questioned, or else it’s just dogma, like religion. I hope Spotify continues to allow these conversations to be held. I’m not a big JR deciple, but recently started listening to him to see what he is about, and really enjoy the converstations he has. They are thought provoking.

  • January 27, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    It was obvious from the start which side Spotify was going to take. Ditching Neil Young means they no longer have to pay out royalties. Ditching Joe Rogan means they are out many millions of dollars thanks to the contract they signed with him.

    So regardless of what Spotify believes, they were always going with Joe. No matter how misinformed he is.

  • January 27, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    Neil is probably the one who is misinformed. Been in the barn too long.

  • January 27, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    Hi — just a clarification I think: Neil Young claims Spotify removal will cost him 60 per cent of [his] STREAMING income.

  • January 28, 2022 at 11:58 am

    Neil sold 50% of his “career catalogue” to Hipgnosis, for an est. US$150 million. How does that factor in here? Could Neil be held liable for a drop in revenue for Hipgnosis?


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