Rock and roll musician Neil Young wrote an open letter (since deleted) to his management team requesting that they have his music removed from streaming platform Spotify. This was in response to their hosting of episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience in which Rogan talked about his personal opinions and experience with Coronavirus and the vaccines. Young said in the letter, “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. I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Patrick Madrid talked about the situation on a recent episode of The Patrick Madrid Show and analyzed Spotify’s response and their decision to remove his music from their platform.
“You won’t be able to find Neil Young’s music on Spotify because Spotify took all of his music down, but not because they didn’t like him. Spotify removed Neil Young’s music – they confirmed this yesterday – because of his objections to the Joe Rogan podcast.” Patrick said he knows of Joe Rogan but has never listened to the podcast. However, the content is neither here nor there. Joe Rogan’s podcast revolves around conversations with different people whose perspectives come from all sides. Rogan hosts guests that have differing opinions on a regular basis and through discussion, he juxtaposes his own opinions and beliefs with the views of his guest.
Neil Young apparently took the hosting of this podcast to mean that Spotify was supporting Joe Rogan’s views and beliefs. In what may have appeared to be an instance of impulse, he penned the ultimatum and released it on his website. He has since deleted it in what some speculate may have been a realization of how bold his claims were. Spotify took action anyway.
Rogan has an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, he signed an exclusive deal in 2020 with Spotify worth more than $100 million, and he produces content on an almost daily basis. Besides being experienced in the comedy and MMA industries, Rogan tackles subjects from philosophy and religion to physical fitness, drug use, and topical modern issues. Neil Young hasn’t put out an album that went gold since 2010. The last time he released back-to-back gold albums was in 1994-1995. That isn’t to say that he isn’t a good musician (music taste is subjective). However, from a business standpoint, Spotify is not going to throw a $100 million deal in the garbage, especially when the man in question is making them money hand over fist.
While it’s unclear whether Spotify made this move to protect their own assets or to protect Rogan’s rights, they responded in a brief statement, “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 regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”
It’s worth noting that Neil Young sold 50% of the rights and income interests in his music catalog to a UK investment fund called Hipgnosis in January of last year. In a more recent announcement, Young said that WB Reprise (his record label) and Hipgnosis have agreed to support his migration off of the platform. “Here’s the thing that I find the most interesting,” said Patrick. “Spotify represents 60% of the streaming music to his listeners.” Young said he personally wanted to thank Hipgnosis and WB Reprise for taking the 60% hit that he called “worth it for our integrity and beliefs.”
As of right now, Young’s music is still available on Spotify. No update has been announced scheduling the removal of his music.
Listen to the whole segment below:
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