Neil Young’s music removed from Spotify amid Joe Rogan dispute

27 Jan 2022

Neil Young. Image: Man Alive!

Spotify has been dealing with Neil Young and the damage done by concerns about Covid-19 misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

Spotify has removed Neil Young’s music from its platform at the star’s request, as he protested that vaccine misinformation was being spread on the podcast of Joe Rogan.

Earlier this week, Young posted an open letter to his manager and label asking them to remove his music from the platform. He made objections that Rogan’s podcast, which is hosted by Spotify, was spreading false claims about Covid-19 vaccines and the company has a responsibility to “mitigate the spread of misinformation” on its platform.

“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” he wrote.

Young’s record label Warner Music formally requested that Spotify remove his music on Wednesday 26 January.

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” the company said in a statement shared by The Wall Street Journal.

“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-19 since the start of the pandemic.”

Spotify added that it “regrets” the decision by the folk-rock star, who survived polio as a child, but hopes to welcome him back soon.

The Joe Rogan Experience is one of Spotify’s most popular podcasts. It was acquired by the platform in 2020 in a deal worth around $100m.

Growing misinformation concerns

Earlier this month, more than 270 scientists and medical professionals published an open letter calling on Spotify to crack down on misinformation, referencing an episode of Rogan’s show which they claimed spread false information and conspiracy theories around Covid-19.

They referred to an episode uploaded on 31 December last year in which Rogan interviewed Robert Malone, a virologist and immunologist who has made controversial criticisms of vaccines and has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust.

Malone, who was banned from Twitter in recent weeks for spreading misinformation, made baseless claims about vaccines on the Joe Rogan Experience, according to the letter, and asserted that societal leaders have “hypnotised” the public.

“These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous,” the letter read.

Tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have been criticised time and again by the scientific community and governments for allowing the spread of misinformation on their platforms since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.

Neil Young. Image: Man Alive! via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic