In an angry online letter that has since been deleted, Neil Young declared that Spotify “can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” but the streaming service continues to pay Joe Rogan $100 million to spew anti-vaxx misinformation.
The COVID-19 vaccine disinformation on the December 31 episode of the meathead messiah Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Spotify was so bad that more than 1,000 doctors signed an open letter demanding that Spotify crack down on the show’s stream of demonstrable falsehoods. On that episode, which has been removed from Youtube for misinformation but not from Spotify, a guy who claims he “invented” the mRNA vaccine (he didn’t) goes on to say that vaccines have caused an "explosion of vaccine-associated deaths," that President Biden got a fake dose for the cameras, and since anti-vaxxers cannot seem to name one other historical event, compared vaccination mandates to “what the heck happened in Germany in the ‘20s and ‘30s.”
“They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young,” Neil Young wrote in a letter to his manager and label, “Not both." Young demands Spotify remove his music over "false information about vaccines" https://t.co/f1u4bDAu1L— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) January 24, 2022
There has been no response from Spotify on the matter. But there has been a response from aging rocker and Redwood City resident Neil Young, whom Rolling Stone reports has demanded his music be removed from Spotify over the association with a platform that streams Rogan’s show.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young said in an online open letter posted to his website. “They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE [Joe Rogan Experience], which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” Young continued. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
But lo and behold, KRON4 points out that the letter has since been deleted. It no longer appears on Young’s website, and it was pulled so quickly that the Internet Archive couldn't even scrape a copy.
According to Rolling Stone, the letter was not addressed to Spotify itself, but to Young's “manager and a Warner executive.” (Young is under contract with Warner’s Reprise Records). In all likelihood, Young's manager or label freaked out and demanded he pull it down.
So the irony is that Young’ open letter has been censored, but Rogan’s podcast that could very potentially kill people remains up. As of press time, Neil Young’s music remains up on Spotify, and Joe Rogan’s podcast remains on Spotify.
But in terms of Rogan, maybe that’s for the best. While Spotify does not disclose audience numbers, a Verge investigation last summer found evidence that Rogan’s audience is dwindling since he switched to Spotify.
Update: Aaaand, Spotify has pulled down Neil Young's catalog. In a statement, the company says, "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 have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon."
Image: Per Ole Hagen via Wikimedia Commons