"Neil Young opened a door that I MUST walk through."
Spotify is under fire from some of its biggest artists. Over the past few weeks, concerns over the platform's spread of misinformation have surfaced, stemming from podcast host Joe Rogan's controversial statements about the Covid vaccine. Some artists have become so concerned over Joe's alleged misinformation regarding the virus that they've actually decided to remove their music from the platform -- starting with Neil Young.
In an open letter to executives, Neil expressed his concerns, urging other artists to follow suit and "stop supporting Spotify's deadly misinformation about Covid." It wasn't long before many of Neil's followed in his footsteps…and their actions have actually made a change. Spotify has since published a new misinformation policy and has vowed to add advisory warnings to all podcasts that discuss the vaccine. Whether it's enough for these artists to return to the platform is yet to be seen.
Here are all the entertainers who have removed their content from Spotify so far…
Neil Young was the first entertainer to speak up about his issues with the content shared on Joe Rogan's podcast. In an open letter to his management team and record label that has since been deleted, Neil accused Spotify of allowing misinformation about vaccines to be shared on their platform. He ultimately told Spotify they had to pick between him and Joe.
"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. 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. They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both," Neil wrote.
This isn't the first time Neil has removed his music from Spotify. Several years ago, he removed his music from the platform because he felt the sound quality on the service was too low but he ultimately relented.
Soon after Neil shared his letter, Joni Mitchell showed her solidarity and vowed to also remove her music from Spotify. Joni, who had 3.7 million listeners per month, shared a statement on her website explaining that she, too, would be removing her music.
"I've decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue," Joni wrote.
India Arie decided to not only remove her music from Spotify but also her podcast "SongVersation." The musician explained that her issues with Joe expanded beyond Covid-related controversies and also included his problematic comments about race and the way he was being compensated by Spotify.
"Neil Young opened a door that I MUST walk through. I believe in freedom of speech. However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons OTHER than his Covid interviews…FOR ME ITS ALSO HIS language around race. What I am talking about is RESPECT -- who gets it and who doesn't. Paying musicians a Fraction of a penny? and [Joe] $100M? This shows the type of company they are and the company that they keep. I'm tired," India wrote on Instagram.
4. Graham Nash
Crosby, Stills & Nash band member Graham Nash also sided with his former collaborator Neil. In a statement, he explained that "having heard the Covid disinformation spread by Joe Rogan on Spotify," he decided to remove his music from the platform.
"I am requesting that my solo recordings be removed from the service. There is a difference between being open to varying viewpoints on a matter and knowingly spreading false information which some 270 medical professionals have derided as not only false but dangerous. Likewise, there is a difference between misinformation, in which one is unaware that what is being said is false, versus disinformation which is knowingly false and intended to mislead and sway public opinion. The opinions publicized by Rogan are so dishonest and unsupported by solid facts that Spotify becomes an enabler in a way that costs people their lives," Graham said in a statement.
Nils Lofgren, best known as the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, decided to side with his longtime friend Neil. The musician, who is also a member of the band Crazy Horse and frontman of Grin, removed 27 years of music from the platform and is working on getting even more taken off.
"A few days ago, my wife Amy and I became aware of Neil and Daryl standing with hundreds of health care professionals, scientists, doctors and nurses in calling out Spotify for promoting lies and misinformation that are hurting and killing people. When these heroic women and men, who've spent their lives healing and saving ours, cry out for help you don't turn your back on them for money and power. You listen and stand with them…Neil and I go back 53 years…[I] knew standing with [him] was the right choice. We encourage all musicians, artists and music lovers everywhere, to stand with us all, and cut ties with Spotify…It's a powerful action YOU can all take NOW, to honor truth, humanity and the heroes risking their lives every day to save ours," Nils said in a statement on his website.
Alternative rock band Failure is one of the latest acts to remove their music from Spotify -- although they've been considering it for a long time based on what they see as Spotify's unfair treatment of artists. The band says they have always wrestled with whether they wanted to use the platform and despite the fact that it has helped them find new fans, they have ultimately decided that it's time to step away. Between the platform's "draconian royalty calculation" which underpays artists, coupled with their allowance of Covid vaccine misinformation, they have had enough. They added that the misinformation is particularly harmful because of how Covid has impacted the live music space and "directly endangers [the] band's supply chain."
"Now, with Spotify's recent policy shift that allows COVID vaccine misinformation to thrive on their platform, Failure have decided that enough is enough…We encourage 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 jeopardizing the industry to which they owe their entire business model, to join us," the band wrote on Facebook.
Author Roxane Gay decided to pull her podcast from Spotify in the wake of the Joe Rogan controversy. Roxane, who wrote "Bad Feminist," didn't share much about her decision but posted the news on Twitter.
"It won't move any sort of needle but I removed my podcast from Spotify. That's all there really is to say about that. Onward," she tweeted.
8. Mary Trump
Podcast host Mary Trump, who happens to be the niece of Donald Trump, recently announced she would be pulling her show from Spotify not only because of Joe Rogan's vaccine misinformation, but also because of his racist remarks.
"I'm removing my podcast from @Spotify. I know it's not a big deal but hope it will be part of a growing avalanche. Thank you to #NeilYoung, @jonimitchell, and @nilslofgren for your courage in leading the way…Spotify should get rid of Joe Rogan's show not just because he spreads COVID disinformation but because he is a racist. It's yet another reason for us to #DeleteSpotify," Mary wrote on Twitter.
"Science Vs." podcast hosts Wendy Zukerman and Blythe Terrell are limiting production of their upcoming podcasts as they do not believe Spotify's rules regarding misinformation go far enough. In a letter to Spotify founder Daniel Ek, the duo explained how Joe's podcast "leaves the audience with a skewed and inaccurate view of the Covid-19 vaccines" and their belief that the platform has not done enough to address it.
"Spotify published its platform rules but we do not think they go far enough. Until Spotify implements stronger methods to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform, we will no longer be making new Science Vs episodes, except those intended to counteract misinformation being spread on Spotify. We understand that moderating content across a large platform can be difficult, but we think Spotify has a responsibility to do more," they wrote.