Why Neil Young Wants His Music off Spotify

Neil Young demanded his management team and record label remove his music from Spotify because the streaming platform is also the home of Joe Rogan's podcast. In a since-deleted statement posted on the music icon's website, Young called out Spotify for continuing to distribute episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience in which the Fear Factor host expresses skepticism of COVID-19 vaccines and spreads misinformation. Young's comments came after 270 doctors, physicians, and science educations wrote an open letter to Spotify, asking the platform to remove Rogan's episodes with baseless claims.

"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 in the now-deleted post, reports Rolling Stone. "Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule." 

Young demanded his label and management tell Spotify immediately that he wanted his entire catalog off Spotify. "They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both," Young wrote.

Last week, Rolling Stone reported that a group of 270 medical experts signed an open letter, asking Spotify to take action about the misinformation distributed on its platform. The Joe Rogan Experience episode that inspired their letter featured virologist Dr. Robert Malone, who has been criticized for spreading vaccine misinformation. Katrine Wallace, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health, told Rolling Stone she believes Rogan is a "menace to public health" because he continues platforming anti-vaccine positions.

"Having things like this on the Joe Rogan podcast gives a platform to these people and makes it a false balance. This is what really bothers me," Wallace told Rolling Stone. "These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue. And there are really not. The overwhelming evidence is the vaccine works, and it is safe."

Although Spotify has removed some anti-vaccine materials, including musician Ian Brown's song against vaccines and Pete Evans' podcast, the company has been reluctant to take action against Rogan's show over his vaccine discussions. "Spotify prohibits content on the platform which promotes dangerous false, deceptive, or misleading content about COVID-19 that may cause offline harm and/or pose a direct threat to public health," Spotify told Business Insider after Evans' podcast was removed. "When content that violates this standard is identified it is removed from the platform."

"With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world's largest podcast and has tremendous influence," reads the open letter from medical experts. "Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy."

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Young previously pulled down his music from Spotify to protest the low sound quality before he reluctantly allowed his music to be returned to the platform. "That's where people get music," he told Rolling Stone in 2019. "I want people to hear my music no matter what they have to get through to do it. I'm just trying to make it so they hear a lot more and enjoy it a lot more, but sell it for the same price because music is music." Young's music is still on Spotify as of this writing, including his latest album, Barn