This past January 24th, legendary musician Neil Young wrote an open letter threatening to remove his entire catalog from Spotify if the streaming service did not remove Joe Rogan and his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, from the platform. Young cited how Rogan continuously spreads COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on his show. “Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” he said.“They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.” This was the first domino to tip and quite a bit has happened since.
Why Are People Leaving Spotify? Inside The Controversy
Soon after Young’s statement, Spotify sided with Joe Rogan, their $100 million man who signed a very rich exclusive licensing deal in 2020. Young’s music was removed, but other artists began to follow his lead. Joni Mitchell joined Young in removing her music, then the rest of Young’s Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young bandmates announced that they were pulling their music as well. This led to numerous artists beginning to question their relationship with Spotify — who already pays artists a criminally low amount of money per song play — and then India.Arie took an even deeper stand against Rogan and Spotify. Arie announced that she was removing her catalog and her podcast, Songversation, citing not necessarily Rogan’s vaccine misinformation as the reason, but rather his problematic language around issues of race. “Neil Young opened a door that I MUST Walk Through,” she posted on Instagram. Rogan soon issued an apology for his misinformation and later for his language.
Arie later posted a video showing numerous instances of Rogan using the n-word on his show, called for a full-on Boycott, and Spotify, in turn, removed 70 episodes of the podcast from the streaming service. But why this issue isn’t going away anytime soon, and why people will likely continue to leave Spotify, is because of the platform’s tepid measures taken. A “content advisory” warning has been added to the platform and CEO Daniel Ek wrote a letter to all employees, which felt a bit more like damage control and a potential PR play.
Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.