Neil Young demands Spotify remove his music over Joe Rogan COVID-19 misinformation

Late Monday, Canadian singer and songwriter Neil Young posted an open letter to his personal website, demanding that music streamer Spotify remove his music from its service. 

In the since-deleted letter, Young explained he wants his music gone since Spotify also hosts a podcast by comedian and actor Joe Rogan. Young stated since that podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has shared misleading statements about the COVID-19 pandemic, his music has no place on the streaming service.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines, potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread about them,” Young’s letter reads.

“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.”

A spokesperson for Young declined to comment. Representatives for both Rogan and Spotify did not respond in time for publication. 

Announcer Joe Rogan reacts during UFC 249 on May 9, 2020, in Jacksonville, Florida. The comedian and actor’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, is one of the most popular in the world. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Young’s move follows a string of similar complaints about misinformation on Rogan’s podcast. In late December, 270 doctors, scientists, professors and “science communicators” signed an open letter, demanding Spotify remove Rogan’s podcast due to its “concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the letter reads.

Rogan himself is not vaccinated and, also in December, he was forced to cancel a planned live show in Vancouver, since he is not able to enter the country.

“I should probably say this because I haven’t yet. My 4/20 show that’s sold out in Vancouver — I don’t think that’s happening,” Rogan said on a Christmas Eve episode. “I don’t think I can even get into the country. I’m not vaccinated. I’m not gonna get vaccinated. I have antibodies, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Guarded use of Young’s music

This is not the first time Young has taken offence over where — and how — his music is used. In 2020, he sent an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, demanding Trump stop using his music at rallies. In that letter, Young stated he would not sue Trump since he was “in charge of the COVID-19 response here in the USA,” though a month later did just that.

In a complaint filed in New York federal court, a representative said Young was filing the lawsuit as Young “in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.”

The case was voluntarily dismissed later that year by Young. Neither party shared whether there was a settlement out of court. 

Young sold 50 per cent of the worldwide copyright and income interests in his music catalogue to song fund Hipgnosis in 2021. That deal, which was worth a reported $150 million US, raised questions over whether Young’s music would appear in places against his will; Young has never licensed his music for use in advertisements, and even mocked artists who did in his song This Note’s For You.

“Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi, ain’t singing for Coke,” the song — the video for which includes likenesses of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston — goes. 

“I don’t sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke.”

In response, CEO Merck Mercuriadis stated the fund will defend Young’s songs, and where they are placed. 

“There will never be a Burger of Gold,” Hipgnosis tweeted at the time, referring to Young’s popular song Heart of Gold, “but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil’s terms.”

WATCH | Big stars selling their catalogues: 

Why some of music’s biggest stars are selling their catalogues

David Bowie’s estate just sold his entire music catalogue for $250 million US — the latest in a long string of similar moves by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young. 5:44

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