If you've been on the internet this week, you'll know that the Spotify Exit of 2022 is underway, following Neil Young's open letter addressed to his management and record label, demanding the removal of his music from Spotify. His reason was as justifiable as a reason can be when it means losing a musical legend's discography on the worlds largest music streamer: He no longer wanted to share a platform with podcaster and routine COVID-19 misinformation spreader, Joe Rogan.
In the letter, Young writes that he objects to Rogan’s continued spread of untrue and debunked information about COVID vaccines, which Spotify is, by platforming his podcast, helping to spread. The misinformation on the podcast is rife, alongside some completely unhinged climate change theories that Jordan Peterson was peddling on the Joe Rogan Experience last week, that Rogan make little effort to challenge.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” the musician wrote in the now-deleted statement. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“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,” he wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Following his demands, on January 26th, Spotify sided with Rogan and removed Young's music, per his ultimatum. The decision came after Spotify struck a $100 million exclusive deal with Rogan in late 2020, which appears to be more valuable to the streaming giant.
Joni Mitchell joins Young
Just a few days ago, Joni Mitchell joined to cohort of people in support of Young, sharing a short statement via her website that she would also be removing her music off of Spotify over the same concerns. While never specifically naming Rogan as the catalyst, she attached a link to the open letter signed by hundreds of scientists and medical professionals calling for Spotify to "immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform."
“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” Mitchell wrote on Friday, January 28. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Megan and Harry speak up
On Sunday, January 30, Megan Markle and Prince Harry are adding their two-cents to the evolving situation. In an official statement released from their Archewell Foundation (which signed and exclusive podcast deal with Spotify in December 2020), they addressed the growing concern about the rampant COVID misinformation on Spotify.
“Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all-too-real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform,” read the statement. “We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public-health crisis.” The statement concluded, noting that Archewell would not be pledging to remove content from the streamer, and will continue to do business with Spotify in the hope that they would “meet the moment.”
In light of the ongoing controversy surrounding @Spotify’s continued support of Joe Rogan, whose podcast has spread proven misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccine efficacy, a spokesperson for Archewell (Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s foundation) says: pic.twitter.com/MZE7RqTNxY
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) January 30, 2022
How has Spotify been impacted?
So far, it is unclear if any of these calls to action will impact Spotify in a meaningful way, despite hashtags like #deletespotify, #cancelspotify, and #byebyespotify currently trending.
In its statement on Young’s ultimatum, Spotify attempted to note that it has “detailed content policies” in place that attempt to walk the line between freedom for creators and listener safety. “We’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic,” the service pointed out.
Regardless of their statement, Spotify has been flooded with customer service complaints after its confirmed support of the controversial podcaster, so much so, that it reportedly had to shut down its live customer support function.
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 27, 2022
We'll keep this page updated as the story unfolds, but in the meantime, where will you be listening to Neil and Joni? Apple Music isn't looking so bad after all.
— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) January 29, 2022