Failure remove their music from Spotify over COVID controversy: “Enough is enough”

The cult alternative rockers are also protesting the platform's overall business model

Failure are the latest act to announce they’re pulling their music from Spotify following the ongoing COVID controversy involving Joe Rogan.

Last month hundreds of scientists and medical professionals asked Spotify to address COVID misinformation on its platform, sparked by comments made on The Joe Rogan Experience.

More than 270 members of the science and medical community signed the open letter, which called Rogan’s actions “not only objectionable and offensive but also medically and culturally dangerous”.

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Soon after, Neil Young demanded that his music be pulled from Spotify, asserting in a since-deleted open letter to his management that content like Rogan’s podcast “spread[s] false information about vaccines”.

The streaming platform obliged, later confirming that Young’s content would indeed be removed from the platform.

Other musicians and entertainers have since followed suit in removing their music and content from the platform including Janis Joplin, Graham Nash and Stewart Lee.

Neil Young
Neil Young was one of the first artists to remove their music from Spotify. CREDIT: Matthew Baker/Getty Images

Now, in a lengthy Facebook statement, cult alternative rockers Failure have announced that they too are planning to remove their music from Spotify in protest of the service platforming misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine as well as its overall business model.

“Failure have wrestled with the question of Spotify and whether to have our newest music, which we control, on the platform,” the band began their statement. “Until now, our ambivalence about Spotify has been based on their draconian royalty calculation which essentially gives artists a microscopic fraction of the money being generated by their music on the platform.

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“We’ve all seen the stories of just how little Spotify pays artists whose product powers their entire business model. It’s been a scam for artists since the beginning, following in the tradition of the major label model which preceded it.

“But artists who want to have their music heard by the most ears possible have had a tough decision to make. Do we give our music to a company that devalues our product to the point where royalty checks from Spotify have become the butt of humorous memes, or do we withhold our music from the platform and supposedly miss out on an ‘entire generation of music listeners?'”

“That is exactly where Failure have been since 2015 when we released our first album since reuniting. Acquiescing to the desire for more ear holes. But now, with Spotify’s recent policy shift that allows COVID vaccine misinformation to thrive on their platform, Failure have decided that enough is enough.”

Failure have wrestled with the question of Spotify and whether to have our newest music, which we control, on the…

Posted by Failure on Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The band continued: “Beyond the moral issues raised by Spotify’s COVID decision, the issue of vaccine misinformation and how it directly affects the current situation in the live music space is simply untenable. Right now, Failure have a 31-date US tour booked for June. The last tour we had booked in 2019 was canceled because of COVID, which was a massive financial blow to the band.

“The vast majority of venues on our upcoming tour are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to see our show. We simply cannot square Spotify’s insistence on spreading misinformation about something that directly endangers our band’s supply chain, namely, human beings in a room with big speakers. There are multiple layers, and reasons for our decision, but looking at the capitalistic, free market angle, this band, like any other small business, is cutting ties with a partner that continues to cut into our bottom line. On that level, this problem is really that simple.

“Of course, no system or business is perfect, but we have alternatives to Spotify that allow the band to be compensated in a more sustainable way, and without the need to associate ourselves with dangerous lies about public health policy.”

Failure then issued a plea to other artists “who want to be paid better for their music, and who don’t want to be in business with a company who is comfortable jeopardising the industry to which they owe their entire business model” to join them.

Other high-profile names to hit out at Rogan for his anti-vax sentiments include Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, who labelled him a “fucking moron”, and Steve Albini, who described Rogan’s content as “trash garbage”.

Meanwhile, it’s been reported that Spotify has lost more than $2billion in market value after Young and others removed their music from the streaming giant.

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