Neil Young's music has been removed from Spotify following misinformation spat

Joe Rogan and Neil Young
Joe Rogan (left) and Neil Young (Image credit: Michael S. Schwartz/Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Neil Young's back catalogue has been removed from Spotify. The move comes after the singer complained that the platform had been spreading Covid misinformation via the Joe Rogan podcast, which they host exclusively.

In a post on his website, Young wrote, "Spotify has recently become a very damaging force via its public misinformation and lies about Covid. 

"I first learned of this problem by reading that 200 plus doctors had joined forces, taking on the dangerous life-threatening Covid falsehoods found in Spotify programming.

"Most of the listeners hearing the unfactual, misleading and false Covid information on Spotify are 24 years old, impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth. These young people believe Spotify would never present grossly unfactual information. They unfortunately are wrong. I knew I had to try to point that out."

Young then went on to address his own relationship with the platform, saying, "All my music is available on Spotify, being sold to these young people, people who believe what they are hearing because it is on Spotify, and people like me are supporting Spotify by presenting my music there. I realised I could not continue to support Spotify's life threatening misinformation to the music loving public."

In an earlier, now-deleted post on his website, Young had issued Spotify with an ultimatum. "I want you to let Spotify know immediately today that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both."

Young's back catalogue has now been removed from the platform. 

A spokesman for Spotify wrote, "We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve 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 welcome him back soon."

The statement didn't explain why Spotify had removed 20,000 podcast episodes that fell foul of their content guidelines, but not the episode of Rogan's podcast that had prompted the 270 medical professionals to complain. 

The letter was prompted by an episode that promoted the widely discredited theory of "mass formation hypnosis". It read: "By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions. Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.” 

In 2020, Rogan signed an exclusive distribution deal with the company which is said to be worth about $100 million, and in September the broadcaster was quick to defend his paymasters, telling his audience, "Spotify has asked me to change nothing... they’ve been amazing. I’m very happy with them. I’m very happy."

Unlike Facebook or Instagram, Spotify has no publicly available anti-misinformation policy.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.