In the wake of musical heavyweights such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell demanding to pull all their music from Spotify in protest over the Joe Rogan controversy, the streaming giant has announced that it will place a COVID-19 advisory warning on all its podcasts.
In an open letter published on his website last week (which has since been deleted), Neil Young demanded that Spotify de-platform Joe Rogan. The “Rocking in the Free World” singer accused Rogan of “spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread.” The singer, responsible for such classics as “The Needle and the Damage Done,” issued the following ultimatum: “I want to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Spotify responded by keeping Rogan and letting a disgruntled Young walk. A Spotify spokesperson told The Washington Post, “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. 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.”
Young’s concern with the hugely popular Joe Rogan podcast, which broadcasts to an estimated 11 million listeners, is that it often debates the validity of everyone being vaccinated and raises health concerns about the potential short and long-term effects of the vaccinations. Young has slammed open debate regarding the biggest vaccination drive in history as “dangerous” and wants to silence Rogan for spreading “Covid misinformation.”
Since Young’s departure, other members of the freedom-loving 1960s generation have expressed their support for his uncompromising stance. Per The Washington Post, fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell has decided to stand in solidarity with Young and demanded that Spotify remove her work as well.
Spotify has since issued a statement from CEO Daniel Ek explaining that they are working to “add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19.” The streaming giant elaborated, “This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics, and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.” The statement further explained, “To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform. We will also begin testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on their platform.”