Neil Young Demanded Spotify Take Down All Of His Music Because He Doesn't Want To Be On The Same Platform As Joe Rogan
Rolling Stone - Neil Young posted a since-deleted letter to his management team and record label demanding that they remove his music from Spotify. “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,” he wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he continued. “They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.” Young is referencing the steady stream of misinformation about vaccines that Joe Rogan has peddled on The Joe Rogan Experience. Last month, 270 doctors, physicians, and science educators signed an open letter asking Spotify to stop spreading Rogan’s baseless claims.
“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,” the letter reads. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Joe Rogan has been quite the hot button topic at Spotify HQ since he signed his monster $100 million dollar deal with the streaming platform in late 2020. Jerry has covered it unfolding since the outset.
First, it was Spotify staffers threatening to quite (but not actually quitting. Obviously) because they didn't agree with things he'd said in the past, didn't like his stance on current issues, and believe he spreads misinformation.
Now, it's come full circle to music- the thing Spotify was built on, and began with.
People forget, because it's such a monster service now, but in its infancy, Spotify was just a spiffier version of Soundcloud (with wayyy more VC money backing it). A place for musicians to post their music to share and get discovered. It obviously grew (quickly) to include bigger and bigger stars, and once deals with major labels were struck to squeeze every penny out of each stream possible, all the major musicians fell in line (don't forget The Beatles and Taylor Swift holding out for what seemed forever). And now it's a mega platform, hosting some of the worlds biggest podcasts, and soon to be pioneering live audio sessions (think Clubhouse but for live studio sessions, acoustic performances, VIP listening events, etc. You heard hear first)
So first we had musicians mad that a streaming service was circumventing the customer purchase process. Rather than having to buy a whole album, or the song on iTunes, we could just stream it on demand. Eventually they came around and realized it was the new way. And now they’re pissed they’re sharing the space with podcasters.
At least in Neil Young’s case.
Now I didn’t grow up with Neil Young. I’m not that old. But I did grow up listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the car on my moms radio. (She had the best music taste when I was little. Now she’s a Matchbox 20 and Daughtry fan…)
So I realize he’s an icon. And has been for 60 years.
He’s also been a wildcard.
Kinda sorta off the reservation.
And I’m guessing the drugs didn’t help.
This also isn’t the first time Young has flipped out on Spotify. A few years back he flipped out that “his music wasn’t being streamed in high enough quality” (No shit) so he demanded most of his releases be taken down. (It’s a streaming service, thus compression is inevitable- ask the guys at Pied Piper)(that’s also where Tidal planned to pivot, offering high def sound via its streaming app. But also needing to charge like $30 a month to cover the bandwidth costs)
Spotify gave in. And about a year later after Young was over his temper tantrum, he sneakily put it all back.
Whatever side you fall on in the Joe Rogan, vaccine argument, if you fall on either, you have an old legendary, kooky, musician on your side.
First we had Eric Clapton putting out (terrible) new music in the name of fighting the power and anti-vaxing.
Now we’ve got Neil Young on the opposite end of the spectrum, flipping out because Joe Rogan has a platform where he offers different people to give a different opinion on things, allowing people to come to their own conclusions. This used to be called civil discourse, or conversation.
I recently got to see Joe Rogan (and Dave Chappelle) live in Nashville. And one of the first things Rogan told the crowd when he took the stage, and addressed cancel culture, was that “if you take your medical advice from a comedian like him, you got way bigger issues”.
Do I wish he’d get back to the alien informational interviews with ex military intelligence? Fuck Yah.
Do I wish he’d have Kanye back on for round 2 now that he’s Kardashian free and back to (semi) normal? Oh my God yes.
Do I respect him for doing whatever he wants to with the platform he’s built, from the ground up, and the massive army of listeners he has? Absolutely.
If you don’t like it you don’t have to tune in. You’re also free to have a different opinion on things, or change your mind. Doesn’t make anybody a bad person. Joe Rogan included.
Now give “Rust Never Sleeps” and “Zuma” a listen before they’re taken down again.
P.s. - if Neil Young is really playing chicken with Spotify, I don’t think Joe Rogan is the Mac Truck you wanna be going against. They pay him $100 million because he’s worth every penny.
I’m just it’s first month being exclusive, the ‘JRE' brought in 4.5% of all the podcast listeners to the service. That was good for more than 2.66 million listeners.
Spotify tosses Neil Young a fraction of a shekel per stream, they’re paying Rogan a hundred milly because he puts asses in the seats.
Anytime somebody says “it’s them or me” it usually doesn’t turn out well for them.
(See almost every mistress ever)
p.p.s. - so much for “Rockin In The Free World”?