Musicians have taken sides in the ongoing discourse surrounding Neil Young’s battle with Spotify.
Young made headlines on Jan. 24 when he demanded his music be pulled from Spotify due to the streaming site’s support for The Joe Rogan Experience, a popular podcast which has been scrutinized for promoting lies about COVID-19 vaccines.
“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,” the rocker wrote at the time. “I want all my music off their platform. They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Spotify respected Young’s ultimatum and opted to pull the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s catalog from their platform. Doing so has resulted in a new round of criticism, as musicians and fans alike have slammed the streaming giant for seemingly backing Rogan’s side in the debate.
In a show of support, Nils Lofgren also had his music removed from Spotify. “We will miss the $3.28 we get a year but we will forge ahead righteously,” the rocker’s wife remarked via Twitter.
Young’s former CSNY bandmate David Crosby said the musician’s action “makes me proud of him,” while Klay Hanley of ’90s alt-rock group Letters to Cleo wrote: “If record labels + fans found out in the 90s that Tower Records was ripping off artists, using music profits to bankroll and elevate Rush Limbaugh, the shelves would have been empty. I hope more powerful artists follow Neil Young’s stance on toxic jock Joe Rogan #LeaveSpotify.”
Catherine Mayer, widow of Gang of Four’s Andy Gill who died in the pandemic’s early days, wrote an open letter to Spotify condemning the streaming company’s decision. “If my beloved husband, Andy Gill, hadn’t died at the start of the pandemic, he’d have strong and clear feelings about your decision to remove Neil Young’s music in favor of a podcast that has spread anti-vax misinformation,” she wrote in part. “If vaccines had been available at the start of the pandemic, he’d be here to have that conversation with you. Instead, I must speak for him. And I have to tell you, as his widow, I feel sick about the business decision you’ve made.”
Meanwhile, Sebastian Bach called on his fellow musicians to voice support for Young. “Imagine calling yourself a rocker yet siding with some dude who has a podcast over Neil Young,” the former Skid Row frontman declared. “You can stick to listening to your podcast and I will stick to listening to Neil Young.”
Still, not every musician was in Young’s corner. David Draiman, frontman of the metal band Disturbed, voiced support for Spotify’s decision. “[Spotify CEO Daniel Ek] I applaud you and Spotify for making the RIGHT call, preserving #FreeSpeech and not capitulating to the mob,” the singer declared. “I may not agree with everything Joe Rogan or his guests say, but they’re entitled to have the forum to say it.”
In a statement to Billboard, Spotify said: “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.”
The aforementioned tweets and more can be found below.
Neil Young Albums Ranked
Neil Young is one of rock’s most brilliant, confounding, defiant and frustrating artists.