Neil Young Threatens to Pull Spotify Catalogue over Joe Rogan's Vaccine Misinformation

"They can have Rogan or Young. Not both"

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jan 25, 2022

Neil Young has called for the removal of his music from Spotify, arguing that the streaming platform endorses vaccine misinformation by hosting podcaster Joe Rogan, who routinely spreads dangerous ideology: "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both."

Yesterday (January 24), Young published an open letter to his team on his website, letting them know that he wanted his music to no longer be available to stream on Spotify, where he has about 6 million followers. As of press time, the musician's catalogue remains on the streamer. 

"Please immediately inform Spotify that I am actively cancelling all my music availability on Spotify as soon as possible," the legendary musician wrote. "I am doing this because SPOTIFY is spreading false information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them."

He added: "Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule. 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."

Though the letter now appears to have been taken down, the singer-songwriter's manager Frank Gironda confirmed its authenticity to The Daily Beast, saying, "It's something that's really important to Neil. He's very upset about this disinformation."

And it's no small threat: The Joe Rogan Experience is currently the most popular podcast on Spotify, with the streaming giant having signed a $100 million USD deal with the host in 2020 for exclusive rights to the show.

"With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world's largest podcast and has tremendous influence," Young pointed out elsewhere in his letter [via The Guardian]. "Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy."

The letter went on to cite a specific episode of the podcast, wherein Rogan interviewed virologist Robert Malone. Malone was involved in the creation of the mRNA technology that resulted in the leading COVID-19 vaccines, but he has since been criticized for undermining their use.

It's impossible to ignore how the timing of Young's message coincides with Eric Clapton's latest outburst claiming that people support vaccines because of "mass hypnosis formation." What he's actually referring to is the ideology of mass formation psychosis, which was also a topic of discussion on another episode of JRE — though the theory has been "totally discredited by contemporary work on groups and crowds," according to Steven Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology at Scotland's University of St Andrews.

Young had previously removed his music from Spotify several years ago because he wasn't impressed with the sound quality. He yielded — but the icon has been outspoken about mitigating the risks of COVID-19, which is ultimately far more of a life-or-death matter.

See Young's letter in part below [via Stereogum].

A post shared by Stereogum (@stereogum)

Late last year, Rogan's Vancouver show was cancelled due to the vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, Young & Crazy Horse's Barn documentary is now available on YouTube.

Latest Coverage