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Spotify starts removing Neil Young’s music amid Joe Rogan ‘vaccine misinformation’ row

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A hot potato: In the battle between Neil Young and Joe Rogan, it seems the latter has come out on top. Young earlier this week warned Spotify that if it didn’t drop Rogan’s podcasts, the singer wanted his music removed from the platform—he got his wish.

Young wrote an open letter to his manager Frank Gironda, and Tom Corson, co-chairman and chief operating officer of Warner Records, on Tuesday. Part of the letter, which mentioned Rogan specifically, read: “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. Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”

“They [Spotify] can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” the now-deleted letter warned.

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It took two days for Spotify to choose between the two men. Neil Young might enjoy legend status thanks to a career reaching back to the 1960s, several Grammy awards, and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. But the Joe Rogan Experience attracts around 11 million listeners per episode, making it the world’s largest podcast, and the music streaming service paid over $100 million to bring it to Spotify in 2020, where it soon became an exclusive show. All of which likely made its decision to side with Rogan a lot easier.

“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 told the Hollywood Reporter, adding that the company has removed over 20,000 Covid-related podcast episodes since the pandemic began.

“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

Young said in a follow up letter that while Spotify represented 60 percent of his streaming revenue globally, amounting to “a huge loss for [his] record company to absorb,” he wanted his music removed because he “could not continue to support Spotify’s life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.”

An episode of the JRE in which Rogan hosted Robert Malone, a virologist involved in developing mRNA vaccine technology who was suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about Covid-19, resulted in 270 medical professionals writing an open letter to Spotify calling for it to “mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform.”

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