By Mike Murphy
This article was updated Wednesday with the report of Spotify removing Young’s music.
Spotify is granting rock icon Neil Young’s demand to have his music removed from the streaming-music service, after he decried the spread of COVID-19 vaccine disinformation on the platform — and called out popular podcaster Joe Rogan in particular.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday that Spotify is in the process of removing Young’s songs, citing sources familiar with the matter. “We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” a Spotify spokesperson told the WSJ. Most of Young’s catalog was no longer on the service as of 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
Young confirmed the move Wednesday on his blog , and thanked his fans and record label, AT&T’s /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +2.03% Warner Bros. Reprise, for their support. “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about COVID,” he wrote.
In an open letter to his management and record label on Monday, first reported by Rolling Stone , Young gave Spotify Technology SA /zigman2/quotes/207488629/composite SPOT -5.11% an ultimatum: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” he wrote.
“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,” Young wrote Monday. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Rogan’s podcast was Spotify’s most popular worldwide in 2021, despite criticism that it spreads COVID misinformation and conspiracy theories, and gives a platform to far-right figures. Spotify signed Rogan to a $100 million exclusive deal in 2020.
Last month, a group of 270 figures from the medical and scientific community decried Rogan’s show and called on Spotify to institute a misinformation policy.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Rogan has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine,” they wrote in an open letter . “This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform.”
Young took his music off Spotify once before, in 2015, when he complained about the sound quality of the streaming-music service and switched to Tidal. He returned his catalog to Spotify, Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.92% Music and other services in 2016.
Spotify shares are down 25% so far in January, and have tumbled 47% over the past 12 months.