Neil Young urges Spotify employees and musicians to quit over his Joe Rogan boycott

Neil Young has urged musicians and Spotify’s employees to “take the good path” and quit the audio company.

On Monday (7 February), Young posted an open letter on his website criticizing Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek’s handling of the backlash to Covid misinformation and racism on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.

“To the workers of Spotify, I say Daniel Ek is your big problem – not Joe Rogan,” the 76-year-old musician wrote, adding, “Ek pulls the strings.”

He continued: “Get out of the place before it eats up your soul. The only goals stated by Ek are about numbers – not art, not creativity. Notice that Ek never mentions the medical professionals who started this conversation. Look, one last time – at the statements Ek has made.”

Young also highlighted the climate crisis and urged people to “ditch the companies contributing to the mass fossil fuel destruction of Earth”.

He named the banks Chase, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo and urged people to “take your money from the accounts of these American banks today”.

On 31 December 2021, over 250 doctors and scientists had, in an open letter to Spotify, pointed out that Rogan’s podcast “has a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Consequently, Young issued an ultimatum to Spotify telling the Swedish company to delete all his music over its lucrative $100m (£73.8m) exclusivity contract for Rogan’s content.

Young’s stand against Spotify sparked a protest movement among musicians, as others like Joni Mitchell, Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren, and rock supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash also demanded that the company remove their music catalogs “in solidarity” with Young.

Refusing to cut ties with Rogan, Spotify complied with the musicians’ requests to delete their music from its app, prompting further criticism from fans.

In his message posted on Monday to his website called NYA Times-Contrarian, Young urged other musicians to join him in boycotting Spotify, writing: “You must be able to find a better place than Spotify to be the home of your art.”

Last week, Ek addressed the Covid misinformation controversy in a blog post without naming Rogan, sharing the company’s internal content management policy and announcing its decision to add Covid advisory labels on relevant content.

The backlash against Spotify intensified when musician India Arie announced that she was leaving Spotify over Rogan’s “language around race” on 1 February.

At the time, she didn’t specifically mention what she was referring to, but later clarified her stance with an edited montage of clips that showed Rogan using the N-word at least 22 times.

The podcaster since posted a video on Instagram offering his “sincerest apologies” for using the slur and also attempted to explain his reasoning for doing so.

Meanwhile, Spotify has quietly removed more than 110 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast following criticism from celebrities.

Ek also addressed Rogan’s usage of the racial slur in a late night memo to Spotify employees, in which he condemned Rogan’s comments, but added that “silencing Joe is not the answer”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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