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.