Following Neil Young’s withdrawal from Spotify on Wednesday to protest against the streaming service’s popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast – which has come under fire for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines – Young has been declared a “hero” by fans, peers and even the director of the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the setback against Spotify continues to escalate. However, it remains to be seen whether Young’s boycott will make a real difference, or whether other great artists will follow in his footsteps.
The clash between Young, Spotify and Rogan began on January 24, when Young outraged it Joe Rogan Experience “potentially causing the death of those who believe the disinformation is spreading,” he wrote on his Neil Young Archives website: “I want you to tell Spotify today that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both. ” On January 26, Spotify followed the classic rocker’s ultimatum and sided with Rogan, completely removing Young’s catalog from its service. (Rogan has not yet addressed the controversy.)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spotify chose Rogan over Young. In 2019, Spotify, which at its core is a technology company and not a music company, announced plans to dominate “the new podcast marketplace” and buy podcast companies like Gimlet Media, Anchor and Ringer for nine-figure amounts. The following year, Spotify made a massive investment by signing an exclusive $ 100 million deal with Rogan; at the time, research analyst Stephanie Liu said New York Times“This is part of Spotify’s larger investment in podcasts. Spotify is buying not only Joe Rogan’s extensive and future content library, but also his loyal audience.” Joe Rogan Experience went on to become Spotify’s most streamed podcast in 2021, with an estimated 11 million listeners per year. section; that same year, Spotify reportedly overtook Apple Podcasts as the largest podcast provider in the United States.
In another open letter Wednesday, Young acknowledged that Spotify “represents 60 percent” of his music globally, and that removing his catalog from the platform would be “a huge loss for my record company to absorb.” In a new open letter on Friday, he stressed: “I support freedom of speech. I have never been a supporter of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support one. “Platform that conveys harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with frontline healthcare professionals who risk their lives every day to help others.”
Among the public figures praising Young and his record label, Warner / Reprise, for taking a stand despite the financial risk was WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who tweeted: “Thank you for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies surrounding # COVID19 The public and private sectors, especially #socialmedia platforms, media, individuals – we all have a role to play in ending this pandemic and infodemia. ” Earlier this month, 270 doctors, scientists and educators published their own open letter to Spotify, saying that Rogan allows the transmission of such incorrect information – including a claim by immunologist Dr. Robert Malone that vaccines using mRNA technology are ineffective – could “damage public confidence in scientific research and cast doubt on the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.”)
Other celebrities who tweeted their support for Young’s Spotify boycott have included Americana singer-songwriter Margo Price (“If all artists were as punk rock as Neil Young, we might not be completely screwed by corporate streaming companies”); author Amy Siskind (“Neil Young is a hero. That’s all. It’s tweeted”); British pop star Kate Nash commented (“I really admire Neil Young for downloading his music from Spotify”); comedian Tom Scharpling (“Love the clowns who laugh, as if Neil Young ever thought Spotify would drop Joe Rogan. The guy took a stand, put his money where his mouth is. Forced as **** y company to make a true color -declosing decision.This’s just one of the many reasons why Neil is an all-timer “); and even Geraldo Rivera (” I’m with #NeilYoung “).
Catherine Mayer, the widow of punk agitators Gang of Fours backer Andy Gill, addressed Spotify in her own open letter, writing: “If my beloved husband, Andy Gill, had not died at the beginning of the pandemic, he would have strong and clear feelings about your decision to remove Neil Young’s music in favor of a podcast that has spread anti-wax misinformation.If vaccines had been available at the beginning of the pandemic, he would be here to have that conversation with you. “Instead, I must speak for him. And I have to tell you that, as his widow, I feel sick about the business decision you have made.”
The Gang of Fours catalog is available on Apple Music, but not on Spotify. Young has noted that his 60-year-old material will still be streaming on Apple as well as on other platforms like Amazon and Qobuz. In his Friday essay, he said that an “unexpected bonus” of leaving Spotify is “I sound better everywhere else.” (Young’s peer Peter Frampton tweeted, “Good on you Neil. I’ve always been an Apple guy for streaming. No Joe Rogan for me, thank you!”)
Apple has seized this marketing opportunity by tweeting, “It’s always a good idea to stream @NeilYoungNYA” and attaching a post to its Twitter profile declaring Apple Music to be “The home of Neil Young.” Qobuz is currently promoting a nearly five-hour playlist of important Young tracks. And another Spotify competitor / alternative, SiriusXM, has relaunched its Neil Young Radio on Channel 27, promising “rarities and exclusives, each new song from his latest album Letepic hits and fan favorites from his solo music, collaborating with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, plus Neil, who shares the insights behind writing and recording the music. “
Meanwhile, Spotify’s own PR team is trying to dispel the rumor that the company, which boasts 172 million subscribers and 381 million monthly users, has pulled the plug on its live support customer service function after being flooded with requests from angry users. who tried to cancel their subscriptions and switch to another service. “Spotify has not shut down our customer support,” a spokesman insisted in an email statement to Yahoo Entertainment on Friday afternoon. “Yesterday, our team issued a message saying they ‘may be slow to respond’, pointing users to other sources of information if they needed anything right away. As of this morning, our customer support team is working as usual, which means we have advisers staffed around the clock and available to help within minutes. “
As for other Spotify rumors, it was reported on Thursday that the light-hearted icon Barry Manilow had also left the platform, but he clarified in a Friday tweet that this is untrue. While Young and Warner / Reprise’s bold moves have garnered widespread praise in the music industry, no other major record artist has followed in his footsteps since Wednesday.
In his Wednesday mission, Young wrote: “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move from the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about COVID.” In his Friday essay, the rocker, who has long criticized Spotify’s sound quality, again based the service on its “s *** ty, degraded and castrated sound.” Young concluded with the argument, “If you support Spotify, you’re destroying an art form.”
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