Spotify Drops Neil Young After Joe Rogan Ultimatum

Neil Young told Spotify it was either him or Joe Rogan. Spotify chose Rogan

UPDATE: JANUARY 26, 2022 — Two days after rock pioneer Neil Young issued an ultimatum demanding that Spotify either dump The Joe Rogan Experience or delete his music, the audio streamer has elected to stick with Rogan.

“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,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

In a statement on his website Wednesday, Young wrote, “I want to thank my partners for standing with me… Losing 60 percent of worldwide streaming service income by leaving SPOTIFY is a very big deal, a costly move, but worth it for our integrity and our beliefs. Misinformation about COVID is over the line.”

JANUARY 25, 2022 — Rock and roll legend Neil Young has put the bosses at Spotify on notice that if they want to keep playing his classics, they’ve got to ditch podcast king Joe Rogan over what the “Ohio” musician says are “fake” claims made about COVID on Rogan’s show.

In a now-deleted letter to his manager and his record label Monday, Young wrote, “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,” Rolling Stone reports. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”

Young, 76, added, “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Regarding COVID claims made on Rogan’s immensely successful The Joe Rogan Experience—the most popular podcast in the country, perhaps the world, with 11 million listeners—opinions vary.

Rogan and his guests have certainly been accused of spreading misinformation. Last month, 270 doctors, nurses and professors cited JRE in an open letter to Spotify, urging the app company to “take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform.”

However, there are plenty of accusations on both sides. For instance, when Rogan had CNN’s Sanjay Gupta on the show last October and asked Gupta to explain why his colleagues at the news network had been, in Rogan’s words, “lying” about the use of ivermectin, calling it “horse dewormer.”

“It can be used for humans,” Gupta said. “I get it.”

“Not just could be used for humans, is often used for humans along with all the other drugs that I took. All human drugs,” Rogan replied. “They know it’s a human drug and they lied. It’s defamatory.”

“Yeah, they shouldn’t have done that,” Gupta admitted. “I don’t know if it’s defamatory.”

Whatever one thinks of Rogan’s show, Spotify reportedly paid him $100 million in 2020 to move it there from YouTube. And while it’s anyone’s guess what Young’s roster of culture-defining hits is worth to the company, Bob Dylan just sold his entire catalog to Sony for an estimated $200 million.

This is also not the first time Young has had problems with Spotify. He yanked most of his music from the platform in 2019 over issues with sound quality. But he ultimately relented, saying, “That’s where people get music.”

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.