Young’s music was removed off Spotify on Wednesday, two days after he briefly released a public statement calling on Spotify to choose between him and Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host who has been accused of spreading falsehoods regarding the coronavirus and vaccines.
As a result of Young’s lawsuit against Spotify, the debate over misinformation and free speech online has taken a surprising turn. Artists’ ability to dictate where their work is heard was also questioned.
“The home of life-threatening COVID falsehoods,” he wrote on his website in another statement published on Wednesday. A lie being sold for a profit, he continued.
In the wake of a request from a group of hundreds of scientists, professors, and public health professionals to remove one episode of Rogan’s show from Dec. 31, he took issue with the comedian and actor who has become Spotify’s most popular podcast host. According to the group’s public letter, posted on Jan. 10, that show, which featured Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist, propagated “many misconceptions concerning COVID-19 vaccinations.”
Earlier this week, Spotify declared, “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify customers. A lot of responsibility comes with it, and it’s a delicate balance between protecting listeners and allowing creativity to flourish. More than 20,000 audio episodes on the COVID pandemic have been yanked since the outbreak began, because to our strict content policies. Despite our disappointment in Neil’s choice, we hope he will return to Spotify at some point in the future.”
“Heart of Gold,” “Harvest Moon,” and “Old Man” are just a few of Young’s most successful songs, which have been fixtures on the radio for decades and have racked up millions of Spotify streams. Spotify accounts for 60 percent of Young’s worldwide music streams, he claimed in a statement on Wednesday.
Spotify was supposed to erase all of Young’s music within the next few hours. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the service’s decision to remove his tracks.
“Spotify has a responsibility to minimise the propagation of disinformation on its platform,” Young said in his first letter to Warner Records and his manager. As soon as possible, please let Spotify know that I no longer wish to have any of my songs available on their service.
“They can have Rogan or Young,” he added. No, not at the same time.
Even though it was widely covered by the media, Young’s website quickly erased the letter.
In 2020, comedian and actor Seth Rogan agreed to a $100 million exclusive podcast agreement with Spotify, which has yet to be confirmed by the streaming service.
After a 2020 episode that featured conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Spotify defended Rogan, as it has done in the past.
Spotify’s CEO and co-founder, Daniel Ek, told the Financial Times at the time, “We want creators to create.” This is what they excel at. We’re not interested in influencing what people say.
According to Spotify’s most recent financial statements, the company boasts 318 million monthly listeners around the world, including 172 million subscribers.
Before, Young has pulled his music from streaming providers, only to have it restored afterwards. In 2015, he removed his songs from all major audio streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music, after complaining about the sound quality. But soon after, it was re-instated.
The New York Times first published this piece.