Spotify agrees to remove Neil Young's music following Joe Rogan vaccine misinformation complaints

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Spotify said Wednesday it is working on removing rock legend Neil Young’s music from the platform in response to his claims it spreads COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.

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Young wrote an open letter on Monday to his manager Frank Gironda and Tom Corson, co-chairman and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Records, demanding his classic collection of songs be pulled due to the disinformation and specifically called out Spotify’s popular podcast host Joe Rogan.

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young said. “They can have (Joe) Rogan or Young. Not both.”

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Two days later, Spotify obliged.

“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,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday. “We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

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Spotify agrees to remove Neil Young's music following Joe Rogan vaccine misinformation complaints

The Spotify spokesperson said that the platform has detailed content policies in place and has removed more than 20,000 COVID-related podcast episodes since the start of the pandemic.

Spotify’s statement made no specific mention about Rogan’s podcast or what its content policies are. Nor did it specify the volume of Young’s music that’s being removed from the platform.

In Young’s letter, the hall of fame rocker said he wanted his music off because “Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.”

Rogan, host of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” who tested positive for COVID-19 in September, had downplayed the need for mass vaccines for large events like comedy shows. Launched in 2009, Rogan’s podcast is among the most popular in the United States. In 2020, Spotify acquired Rogan’s podcast library in a deal reportedly worth more than $100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rogan’s social media pages frequently mention the debate over COVID vaccines. Last year, Rogan said on Instagram to treat his symptoms he turned to ivermectin, among other treatments not approved by the FDA.

Young is no stranger to pulling his music off Spotify. He removed his music off of the platform and other music streaming services in 2015, stating he felt their audio quality was too low. His music reappeared on those platforms the following year.

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