Spotify to remove Neil Young music amid Joe Rogan COVID protest

The singer called on Spotify to remove his songs or ditch the podcaster, who has spread dubious coronavirus claims.

Singer-songwriter Neil Young
Young had previously pulled his music from Spotify and other streaming services in 2015 over poor audio quality [File: Rebecca Cabage/AP Photo]

Spotify will remove singer-songwriter Neil Young‘s songs from the platform after he objected to being featured on the same platform as podcaster Joe Rogan, who has spread dubious claims about the coronavirus.

In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify said it regretted Young’s decision to request the removal of his music “but hope to welcome him back soon”.

“I realised I could not continue to support Spotify’s life-threatening misinformation to the music-loving people,” said Young.

On Monday, he had publicly asked his management and the streaming company to remove his music from the platform, where he has more than six million monthly listeners.

The 76-year-old musician said many of Spotify’s listeners are hearing misleading information about COVID-19, adding some listeners are young and “impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth”.

“These young people believe Spotify would never present grossly unfactual information,” he said. “They unfortunately are wrong. I knew I had to try to point that out.”

In May 2020, Rogan, 54, signed an exclusive deal with Spotify reportedly worth more than $100m for his show “The Joe Rogan Experience”, which remains the top-rated programme on the platform.

Rogan, a TV host, comedian, and MMA commentator, has repeatedly stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates and vaccines to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Last month, Rogan interviewed Dr Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist who has been banned from Twitter for spreading COVID misinformation.

He has falsely suggested that millions of people have been hypnotised into believing that the vaccines work to prevent serious disease, and has suggested that hospitalised are financially incentivised to wrongfully diagnose deaths as caused by COVID-19.

On Thursday, Spotify said the company has “detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic”.

The company added it has a team of experts that reviews content, which is removed if the information presented is likely to cause harm or pose a direct threat to public health.

Spotify did not directly address Rogan’s podcast.

In early January, 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.

Young, who was was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1975 for composing hits like “Heart of Gold”, “Harvest Moon” and “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World”, noted that Spotify is responsible for 60 percent of his music’s streaming across the world, calling the removal “a huge loss for my record company to absorb”.

Young had previously pulled his music from Spotify and other streaming services in 2015 over low audio quality.

He said the latest removal will give fans the opportunity to seek out his songs on better quality mediums.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies