Rock Stars Continue to Unplug From Spotify Over Covid Misinformation

Podcaster Joe Rogan’s anti-vax commentary prompts Neil Young and others to leave the streaming service.

Friends, Canadians, polio survivors, and Spotify deserters Joni Mitchell and Neil Youngby Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

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The Neil Young–inspired exodus from Spotify continues apace.

Last week, the Canadian rock star pulled his music from the streaming service, citing Spotify’s willingness to let megapopular podcast host Joe Rogan push misinformation on his show about Covid vaccines. Since Wednesday, Young has been joined by two other musical luminaries: fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, and Crazy Horse and E Street Band member Nils Lofgren.

Even though Rogan, who attracts about 11 million listeners per episode, has nearly two times as many Spotify fans as Young (and nearly three times as many as Mitchell), the company’s market value plummeted last week amid the controversy. Apple Music moved to leverage the debacle to its advantage, advertising Young’s music with a featured collection labeled “Neil Lives Here.” Whether or not more artists join the boycott, it’s clear that Young’s move has been effective in causing a major stir. 

As an aside, James Blunt, composer of some of the most god-awful adult contemporary music ever to tarnish the airwaves, has joined in the free speech debate with some healthy self-deprecation:

Young was also deft in deflecting criticism of his move, in light of the public-health stakes. “I support free speech,” he wrote on his website Friday. “I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”

Spotify posted an announcement on its website Sunday afternoon saying that it would add content advisories to podcast episodes discussing Covid. No word yet on whether that’ll be enough for Neil, Joni, and Nils.

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