Spotify’s decision to remove Neil Young’s catalog from the platform in order to keep peddling COVID misinformation via podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience has sparked quite a lot of online discourse about free speech, streaming, and the best way to support artists. The hashtag “#CancelSpotify” trended among Young fans on Twitter Thursday evening (January 27th), and other artists and streaming platforms joined the conversation as well.
Apple Music, TIDAL, Deezer, and Qobuz made sure to remind fans that they still offered Young’s music, while SiriusXM relaunched Neil Young Radio. “When you have an opportunity to present an iconic artist still at the height of his creativity, you don’t hesitate to do it, again,” Steve Blatter, SiriusXM senior vice president and general manager of music programming, said of the decision. “Outspoken, brave, and a true music icon, Neil Young is in a rare class of artists, and we are honored to collaborate with him to create a special audio experience for his fans.”
Young stood his ground on the “costly” decision to leave Spotify — which he said accounts for 60% of his streaming income — in an open letter posted to his website. “I realized I could not continue to support Spotify’s life threatening misinformation to the music loving public,” he wrote. “Before I told my friends at Warner Bros about my desire to leave the Spotify platform, I was reminded by my own legal forces that contractually I did not have the control of my music to do that. I announced I was leaving anyway, because I knew I was. I was prepared to do all I could and more just to make sure that happened. I want to thank my truly great and supportive record company Warner Brothers – Reprise Records, for standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify. Thank You!”
Young is hardly the first artist to beef with the penny-pinching Spotify, which may explain why so many of his fellow artists stood by him online. Speedy Ortiz pointed to a 2020 petition in which artists demanded better pay from the platform, while David Crosby tweeted that he was “proud” of his former bandmate. Young’s fans, meanwhile, boasted that they were also abandoning the service, arguing that siding with Rogan meant it was siding with profit over music and ethics.
Of course, every argument has a counter argument, which is where David Draiman comes in. The Disturbed frontman applauded Spotify for “preserving #FreeSpeech and not capitulating to the mob,” though, if one were to follow similar reasoning, they may find Young has similar sovereignty over his own output. But let’s not get caught in the weeds! Catch up on the discourse below.
Don't mind me.https://t.co/J0Jd5lwHSB— TIDAL (@TIDAL) January 27, 2022
We have a 100% Neil Young playlist, along with his discography on Deezer...— Deezer (@Deezer) January 27, 2022
Just in case you were wondering.https://t.co/sfKOCXfyEJ
Hey, in case you were wondering…#NeilYoung is still on #Qobuz! Rediscover the best of his discography in 24-bit #HiRes, including classics like #Colorado, #Harvest, #AfterTheGoldRush & his newly released album with #CrazyHorse, #Barn.— Qobuz (@qobuz) January 27, 2022
?? https://t.co/f6eKrjC3cC@NeilYoungNYA pic.twitter.com/noyhExN7a9
30,000 artists signed a petition in 2020 outlining why spotify was bad for us (this before daniel ek made massive military industrial complex investments) and if you are just now paying attention thanks to neil young… welcome! sign on! https://t.co/IWvQHUvK2U— speedy ortiz ÷ sad13 ÷ sadie dupuis ÷ haunted guy (@sad13) January 27, 2022
Makes me proud of him https://t.co/GUsXg2gwZz— David Crosby (@thedavidcrosby) January 25, 2022
Imagine calling yourself a rocker yet siding with some dude who has a podcast over @Neilyoung ? you can stick to listening to your podcast and I will stick to listening to Neil Young ??— Sebastian Bach (@sebastianbach) January 27, 2022
@eldsjal I applaud you and @Spotify for making the RIGHT call, preserving #FreeSpeech and not capitulating to the mob. I may not agree with everything @joerogan or his guests say, but they’re entitled to have the forum to say it.— David Draiman (@davidmdraiman) January 27, 2022
Spotify chooses Rogan over Neil Young because they are not in the music business - they are a tech platform, and however they can get people to spend more time on the platform, that’s where they will go. Amazon is not a bookstore. Spotify is not interested in the future of music— Damon K (@dada_drummer) January 27, 2022
just ran some numbers and neil young stands to lose 4 dollars over the next twenty years— nigh eve6 (@Eve6) January 27, 2022
We are three years into a pandemic, millions are dead & Spotify is supporting Joe Rogan - perhaps the single biggest superspreader of Covid misinformation in the ?. Coz he’s brings in the ?— kate_the_khemist (she/her) (@katethekhemist) January 27, 2022
I’m cancelling my membership and you should too. #BoycottSpotify #Spotify #NeilYoung pic.twitter.com/fs0yXg8hxJ
— Andie's Place❤️🇨🇦🌺🐾 (@AndiePlace) January 27, 2022
— AngryBoomer (@stevelpetty) January 27, 2022