Citing Vaccine Misinformation (and Joe Rogan), Neil Young Wants Off Spotify

Could this be the beginning of something larger?

Neil Young, 1989
Neil Young and Micah Nelson during Farm Aid 34 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre.
Gary Miller/Getty Images

In 2020, Joe Rogan signed a deal with Spotify to bring his podcast to the streaming service as an exclusive. At the time, it was billed as a win for both Rogan and Spotify; one got a lot of money, the other had a big name to hasten their entry into the world of podcasting.

But it turns out there are some downsides to Spotify’s association with Rogan — and Neil Young just put one of them into sharp relief.

On Monday, Rolling Stone reported that Young had posted a letter addressed to his record label and management company requesting that his music be removed from Spotify. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young wrote. “They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Elsewhere in the letter, Young made it very clear that he was making this request due to the presence of vaccine misinformation that can be found on Spotify. “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.

This isn’t the first high-profile example of Rogan’s anti-vaccine comments drawing criticism for Spotify. Earlier this month, 270 scientists, doctors and educators sent Spotify an open letter asking the company to establish “a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation.”

Young’s action is a bold step, but it also raises more questions — specifically, about whether or not other artists will follow his lead. If they do — and if enough high-profile names withdraw from the service — Rogan’s presence there could become a liability rather than an asset.

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