In an open letter posted to his website, Young specifically targeted The Joe Rogan Experience. The podcast has been hosted exclusively on Spotify since late 2020, as part of a licensing deal worth an estimated $100 million between the streaming giant and the controversial podcast host.
Medical professionals have been campaigning for Spotify to remove or monitor Rogan’s podcast, claiming Rogan has a history of airing COVID misinformation and promoting unproven treatments. One episode in particular that doctors want removed features an interview with Dr. Robert Malone, who was previously banned from Twitter for sharing COVID-19 misinformation.
“[Spotify] can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young wrote at the time, criticising the platform for allowing Rogan to share his unverified opinions about COVID-19 vaccines, “potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread.”
“With an estimated 11million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence,” he wrote. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Now, Spotify has confirmed that, when presented with the option of Rogan or Young, they’re going with Rogan. “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” it wrote in a statement to Billboard.
“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.”
True to their comments, Young’s extensive back catalogue is now no longer available to stream on Spotify, apart from a handful of live singles and collaborative releases. In a new letter on Young’s website. Young explained his decision, saying he realised he “could not continue to support Spotify’s life threatening misinformation,” and thanked his record label, Warner Brothers, for standing by his decision.
“Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money,” Young wrote. “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about COVID.”