Untangling the Neil Young vs. Joe Rogan-Spotify situation
[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
When Neil Young announced he was pulling his music from Spotify in protest over COVID-19 disinformation espoused on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, I expected the story to cause a splash for a day before fading away. Young, the revered but grumpy aged rock star, wanted to make a statement, but like Grandpa Simpson, his complaints would soon be swept away. That’s not what happened.
Instead, Young picked off a scab hiding a multitude of issues involving Spotify. It may be the biggest streaming platform in the known universe, but it’s also the most criticized, from the payouts sent to artists to delays in implementing new technologies, causing them to fall behind their competitors. A snowball effect? More like an avalanche.
Fans began canceling their Spotify subscriptions in such huge numbers the company’s customer service system was overwhelmed, resulting in “sorry, we can’t help you right now” messages. Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren (a former guitarist for Bruce Springsteen), Brené Brown (a Spotify podcaster), and the remainder of CSN&Y (David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash) have all chosen to stand with Neil.