Neil Young Says He’s Against ‘Censorship’ After Spotify Removes Music Over Joe Rogan Dispute


Neil Young wrote Friday that he has “never been in favor of censorship” and “supports free speech,” days after the artist asked Spotify to remove his music from the streaming service following a dispute about false Covid-19 claims touted on Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast.

Key Facts

Doubling down on his earlier claims, Young, 76, wrote on his website that “private companies have the right to choose what they profit from,” just as he has the right to “not have [his] music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”

Young also claimed that unlike other streaming platforms like Apple Music or Amazon, Spotify downgrades the quality of its audio, calling its sound “s****y, degraded and neutered” and writing that anyone who supports Spotify is “destroying an art form.” 

Forbes has reached out to Spotify for comment. 

Crucial Quote

“I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others,” Young wrote, saying that he feels “better” since leaving the platform.

Big Number

Over 6 million. That’s how many monthly listeners Young had on Spotify before his music was removed. The rock artist had 40 albums available on Spotify and said that 60% of streams of his music were done on the platform. Rogan’s podcast has an average of 11 million listeners per episode.

Key Background

On Monday, Young published a since-deleted open letter telling Spotify it “can have Rogan or Young.” He accused the platform of “spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation” through Rogan’s podcast. Two days later, Young’s management formally requested that Spotify remove his music. A spokesperson for Spotify said “We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.” In 2020, Spotify reportedly paid roughly $100 million to be the exclusive distributor of the Joe Rogan Experience, which was the most popular podcast on the platform last year. Rogan has used his platform to host controversial guests like Alex Jones, and has spread questionable or outright false claims about Covid-19 vaccines and treatments: He’s argued young healthy people likely don’t need to be vaccinated, and touted antiparasitic drug ivermectin — which isn’t authorized for use against Covid-19 — as a cure for the coronavirus. Earlier this month, over 270 physicians and scientists signed an open letter asking Spotify to curtail health misinformation. The group also asked the company to take down a December episode of Rogan’s podcast featuring Dr. Robert Malone, who falsely claimed getting vaccinated can be dangerous for people who have had Covid-19, baselessly said a large chunk of the population is “hypnotized” by the media and Dr. Anthony Fauci and compared pandemic regulations to Nazi Germany.


World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted his support for Young on Thursday, thanking him for “standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies.” 

Further Reading

Neil Young Demands Spotify Pull His Music Over Joe Rogan Covid Vaccine ‘Fake Information’ (Forbes) 

Spotify Will Reportedly Remove Neil Young’s Music After Dispute Over Joe Rogan (Forbes) 

WHO Chief Thanks Neil Young For Pushing Spotify To Cut Joe Rogan Over Covid Misinformation (Forbes)

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