Musicians take sides in Neil Young vs. Spotify battle

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The musicians have taken sides in the ongoing discourse surrounding Neil Young’s battle with Spotify.

Young made headlines on January 24 when he requested that his music be removed from Spotify due to the streaming site’s support of The Joe Rogan Experiencea popular podcast that has come under scrutiny for promoting lies about COVID-19 vaccines.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines – potentially causing the death of those who believe the misinformation is being spread by them,” the rocker wrote at the time. “I want all my music to come off their platform. They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Spotify complied with Young’s ultimatum and opted to remove the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s catalog from its platform. This has led to a fresh round of criticism, as musicians and fans have criticized the streaming giant for seemingly supporting Rogan’s side in the debate.

In a show of support, Nils Lofgren also had his music removed from Spotify. “We’ll miss out on the $3.28 we get per year, but we’ll move forward with justice,” the rocker’s wife remarked via Twitter.

Former CSNY bandmate de Young David Crosby said the musician’s acting “makes me proud of him”, while Klay Hanley of 90s alternative rock band Letters to Cleo wrote: “If the record labels + fans discovered in the 90s that Tower Records was ripping artists off, using music profits to fund and elevate Rush Limbaugh the shelves would have been empty Hope more powerful artists follow Neil’s stance Young on toxic athlete Joe Rogan #LeaveSpotify.

Catherine Mayer, widow of Gang of Four’s Andy Gill, who died early in the pandemic, has written an open letter to Spotify condemning the streaming company’s decision. “If my beloved husband, Andy Gill, hadn’t died at the start of the pandemic, he would have strong and clear feelings about your decision to remove Neil Young’s music in favor of a podcast that spread anti-vax misinformation,” she wrote in part. “If vaccines had been available at the start of the pandemic, he would be here to have this conversation with you. Instead, I have to speak for him. And I have to tell you, as a widow, I feel sick of the business decision you made.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Bach called on his fellow musicians to voice their support for Young. “Imagine calling yourself a rocker while siding with some guy who has a podcast on Neil Young,” the former Skid Row frontman said. “You can stick to listening to your podcast and I’ll stick to listening to Neil Young.”

Still, not all musicians were in Young’s corner. Metal band frontman David Draiman Disturbed, expressed support for Spotify’s decision. “[Spotify CEO Daniel Ek] Kudos to you and Spotify for making the RIGHT call, preserving #FreeSpeech and not giving in to the crowd,” the singer said. “I may not agree with everything Joe Rogan or his guests say, but they have a right to have the forum to say it.”

In a statement to Billboard, Spotify said, “We want all the music and audio content in the world to be available to Spotify users. With this comes a great responsibility to balance both the safety of listeners and the freedom of creators. We have detailed content policies in place and have removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to see him again soon.

The aforementioned tweets and more can be found below.

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