Continuing his dispute with Spotify over their alleged support of vaccine misinformation, Neil Young has encouraged workers at Spotify – as well as fellow musicians – to step away from the streaming giant.
“In our communication age, misinformation is the problem,” he wrote in a statement to his website yesterday (February 7). “Ditch the misinformers. Find a good clean place to support with your monthly checks. You have the real power. Use it.
“To the baby boomers, I say 70 percent of the country’s financial assets are in your hands compared with just about five percent for millennials. You and I need to lead.”
Young went on to disparage major American banks – in particular Chase, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – for their “continued funding of the fossil fuel damage even as the global temperature keeps climbing”, and petitioned for his fans to follow suit in ceasing his support for such companies.
The legendary folk-rocker continued: “Join me as I move my money away from the damage causers or you will unintentionally be one of them. You have the power to change the world. We can do it together. Your grandchildren will thank you in history.
“To the musicians and creators in the world, I say this: You must be able to find a better place than Spotify to be the home of your art. To the workers at Spotify, I say Daniel Ek is your big problem – not Joe Rogan. Ek pulls the strings. Get out of that place before it eats up your soul. The only goals stated by Ek are about numbers – not art, not creativity.
“Notice that Ek never mentions the medical professionals who started this conversation. Look, one last time at the statements Ek has made. Then be free and take the good path.”
Young’s battle with Spotify began towards the end of January, when he demanded that his music be pulled from the platform. At the time, he asserted in an open letter to his management that content like the Joe Rogan Experience podcast “spread[s] false information about vaccines”. Spotify obliged, confirming on January 26 that Young’s content would indeed be removed from the platform.
After his catalogue was pulled from Spotify, Young shared a statement claiming that without his presence on the platform, he stood to lose 60 per cent of his streaming income. While he admitted it was “a huge loss” for his labels, Warner and Reprise, he thanked them for “recognizing the threat [that] the COVID misinformation on Spotify posed to the world”.
The saga drew mixed reception from the wider music industry – the widow of Gang of Four‘s Andy Gill criticised Spotify for keeping Rogan’s podcast on the platform, for example, while Disturbed frontman Dave Draiman applauded Spotify for “not capitulating to the mob”. Most seemed to side with Young, however, with rival platforms Apple Music and Tidal both voicing support for the artist.
Fellow artists to join Young in pulling their catalogues from Spotify include – but are not limited to – Joni Mitchell, Stewart Lee, Failure, Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren, and all three members of Crosby, Stills & Nash (with whom Young used to perform as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).
Rogan publicly addressed the backlash himself, sharing a video discussing “some of the controversy that’s been going on over the past few days.” He told fans on Instagram: “I don’t always get it right. I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view.
In the week following the controversy’s spark, Spotify lost more than $2billion in market value. Though the service stopped short of removing content that spouted falsehoods around the COVID-19 vaccine, it did begin adding content advisories to all relevant podcast episodes addressing the pandemic.
According to an independent study, 19 per cent of Spotify users have cancelled their subscriptions since the controversy broke out.