Well, Well, Well … Look Who's Still on Spotify

It seems like only yesterday that Neil Young shook his shriveled Canadian fist at Spotify, via a now-deleted open letter to his manager and record label, and demanded they remove his work from their platform. “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,” explained Young. He directed his people to “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,” fumed Young. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

We all know what happened next … Spotify put their exclusive Joe Rogan Experience podcast (“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” according to yet another open letter, this one from Scientists™) on one side of the scale and Neil Young’s ever-more-irrelevant catalog on the other side. In a shocking stand for freedom of speech, Spotify called Neil Young’s bluff. And so, off he flounced.

“Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world,” wrote Young on his website as he pulled his catalog from Spotify in late January. Yet [his label, Warner Music/Reprise Records] stood with me, recognizing the threat the COVID misinformation on SPOTIFY posed to the world — particularly for our young people who think everything they hear on SPOTIFY is true. Unfortunately it is not.”

Young’s flounce was so impactful, it even drew other fading hippies along with it. Notably, Joni Mitchell, who is even older than Young, took her ball and went home, too. A mighty blow was struck for truth and public safety!


Except that, just this morning, I was able to pull up both these dedicated champions of the Man’s approved COVID-19 narrative on Spotify.


Related: Barry Manilow Denies Joining Neil Young in Laughable Spotify Battle Over Joe Rogan Podcast

In 2019, Young pulled his music from Spotify because the platform wasn’t good enough for him. But after initially complaining that Spotify was too low-fidelity for high quality sounds such as his, Young relented and returned his catalog to the platform. “I want people to hear my music no matter what they have to get through to do it. I’m just trying to make it so they hear a lot more and enjoy it a lot more, but sell it for the same price because music is music,” he said at the time.

One can only assume the Warner label is used to Young’s tantrums by now. At any rate, it’s delightful to see yesteryear’s hippies losing influence in the public square like this.


Readers have pointed out that some of Young’s and Mitchell’s music remains grayed out and unavailable on Spotify. In fact, Warner Music/Reprise Records, which licenses some of the music to Spotify, is standing behind the artists’ decision, and currently the portion of music that the company controls remains unavailable the platform. I’m sure the loss of this lucrative revenue stream has positively devastated the label.


Meanwhile, the remainder of the musicians’ catalogs that were released through other labels remains streamable on Spotify — Young and Mitchell never had the power to follow through on their threats themselves — and revenues will continue to flow to the artists who gifted these works to the world. Add to that the fact that just over a year ago, Young sold a 50% stake in his catalog to U.K. music investor Hipgnosis for a cool $150 million, and it becomes clear that he isn’t exactly suffering from taking a “principled stand.”


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