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Neil Young removes music from Spotify in protest of Joe Rogan’s podcast

“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young, 76, wrote in an open letter.

Spotify will remove Neil Young’s music from its platform, per his request, following his objections to Joe Rogan’s statements about the COVID-19 vaccine on his Spotify-hosted show. The music is expected to be removed later Wednesday.

A rep for Spotify said in a statement to Variety“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 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

Young music is available on his paid website, Neil Young Archives, for between $19.99 (“Classic”) and $99.99 (“Patron”) per year.

A rep for Young did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

While Young has spoken out about many political issues over the course of his six-decade career, his objections to Rogan’s statements about the vaccine have gained extraordinary traction since he posted a since-removed open letter late Monday to his management, Lookout, and label, Warner Records, demanding his music be removed from Spotify due to the streaming service’s distribution partnership with Rogan. In the letter, he accused Rogan and Spotify of spreading false information regarding COVID-19 and vaccines.

“Please immediately inform Spotify that I am actively canceling all my music availability on Spotify as soon as possible,” he wrote. “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false 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,” the statement continued. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately today that I want all of my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Some public health officials have also urged Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing the massively popular “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast of possessing a “concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Young has removed his music from Spotify before, but not over political issues: In 2015 he pulled his entire catalog from all streaming services over what he deemed inadequate sound quality. “I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution” he wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.” He launched his own high-quality music player, Pono, which struggled before Young shut it down in 2017 and instead focused on his Archives website.

“The Joe Rogan Experience” is currently the most-listened to podcast on the audio streaming service. Rogan signed a $100 million deal in May 2020, giving Spotify exclusive distribution rights (though not ownership of) his podcast.

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