January 27, 2022

RUST NEVER SPOTIFYS: Neil Young Demands Spotify Remove His Music Over ‘False Information About Vaccines.’Neil Young Demands Spotify Remove His Music Over ‘False Information About Vaccines.’

Spotify’s response? Thank you; your terms are acceptable: Spotify Takes Down Neil Young’s Music After His Joe Rogan Ultimatum.

Mr. Young’s record label, Warner Music Group Corp.’s Warner Records, formally requested Spotify remove the music Wednesday.

“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 said Wednesday. The company has detailed content policies in place and has removed over 20,000 Covid-19-related podcast episodes since the start of the pandemic, he added.

“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” he said.

For Spotify, the controversy is a significant test of its big bet on Mr. Rogan, one of podcasting’s most popular and polarizing voices. Spotify struck a deal with Mr. Rogan in 2020 worth more than $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter, bringing his loyal followers and lucrative show exclusively to its service. Mr. Rogan is central to Spotify’s podcast strategy in attracting listeners and ad dollars to its platform and shows.

While the letter has since been removed from Mr. Young’s website, he has been in discussions with his label and Spotify since then, and continued to hold his ground, according to people familiar with the matter.

As I said yesterday, given Young’s negative statements about pretty much all music formats post-LP records, Spotify’s management really seem to be going out of their way to save Young’s superfans from their worst 21st century tendencies.

Young’s picking a fight with Spotify over Joe Rogan seems much more like to get an extra 15 minutes of relevancy rather than a principled stance by the former member of Buffalo Springfield: “The way to deter ultimatums like that is to punish the first person who issues one by locking him out. So that’s what Spotify did, even though Young is right that Rogan is obnoxious for giving anti-vaxxers a platform. Which is ironic, because he’s been no hero about standing up for good science in the past. This is a guy who cut an entire album a few years ago devoted to spooking people about genetically modified foods. Actual title: ‘The Monsanto Years.’”

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