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Spotify is in the process of removing Neil Young’s catalog of music from its service after the artist published — then took down — an open letter with an ultimatum: Deal with the vaccine misinformation coming from Joe Rogan’s podcast, or lose Young’s music.
Two days after the letter was published, Spotify is now in the process of removing Young’s music from the streaming service, a Spotify spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.
“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 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 spokesperson told THR.
In his letter, which was originally published on his website Jan. 24, Young said, “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. … They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
In a follow-up letter published on Wednesday, Young said that Spotify represented 60 percent of his streaming revenue globally, which amounted to “a huge loss for [his] record company to absorb,” but that he moved forward with removing his catalog because he “could not continue to support Spotify’s life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.”
“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. I have never felt so much love coming from so many,” Young wrote in Wednesday’s letter. “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about COVID.”
Rogan, who hosts the Spotify exclusive podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, has faced backlash for repeatedly sharing misinformation surrounding COVID vaccines on his podcast. In December, a group of 270 doctors and other medical professionals also wrote a letter calling on Spotify to “mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform” shortly after Rogan featured Dr. Robert Malone, a known vaccine skeptic who has promoted baseless theories about the COVID vaccines, on his podcast.
Until Wednesday, Spotify had remained mum on the issue of COVID misinformation coming from Rogan’s podcast, which the audio streamer has been an exclusive distributor of since 2020.
Young’s manager, a representative for his label Warner Records and a spokesperson for Rogan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Spotify was pulling Young’s music.
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