Neil Young's Music Pulled From Spotify After Joe Rogan Standoff

Spotify plans to remove Neil Young's music from the streaming platform after the legendary musician called them out over its platforming of Joe Rogan. Earlier this week, the "Heart of Gold" singer posted an open letter to his manager and label, demanding they get Spotify to remove his music to protest Rogan's podcast as the comedian has been accused of spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. In 2020, Spotify became the exclusive home of The Joe Rogan Experience, a deal reportedly worth $100 million.

"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," a Spotify spokesman told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. "We regret Neil's decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon." The spokesman said the company has already pulled over 20,000 COVID-related podcast episodes in the past year and pointed to the company's policy against misinformation.

Young published his open letter on his website, although it was later deleted. "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," Young wrote, reports Rolling Stone. "Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule." At the end of his statement, Young said Spotify can "have Rogan or Young. Not both."

Following the Wall Street Journal's report, Young posted a new message on Spotify, in which he further defended his decision. He credited a recently published open letter signed by 270 doctors, physicians, and science educators who demanded Spotify take action to remove Rogan's episodes with vaccine misinformation. He also thanked Warner Records for standing by him and "taking the hit... losing 60% of my worldwide streaming income in the name of truth."

"Spotify has become the home of life-threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money," Young wrote. He suggested there could be an upside for his fans, who might listen to his music on platforms with far better music quality.

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"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 continued. "I have never felt so much love coming from so many." Young hoped that many other artists and record labels would follow him to "stop supporting Spotify's deadly misinformation about COVID."

After the original letter was published, Young had discussions with Warner Music Group's Warner Records and Spotify, sources told the Wall Street Journal. However, the musician would not waver from his position. On Wednesday, Young's formal request was made, but it could take hours for Young's music to be removed from Spotify across the world. Young has over 6 million monthly listeners on Spotify, which carried almost his entire catalog, including his latest album, Barn.