Neil Young Says Spotify Battle Isn’t About Free Speech
Neil Young, who recently chose to have his music removed from Spotify in protest of vaccine misinformation promoted by podcast host Joe Rogan, says his decision has nothing to do with censorship.
“I support free speech,” Young wrote in a letter posted to his Neil Young Archives site. “I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. 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.”
As of now, Spotify has taken down Young's music from their platform, as per the artist's request. "They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young said last week, referring specifically to The Joe Rogan Experience, a program that has been repeatedly criticized for broadcasting incorrect information about coronavirus vaccines.
Spotify responded with a statement: "We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon."
In Young's most recent letter, the singer also commented on Spotify's overall poor audio quality. "Amazon, Apple Music, and Qobuz deliver up to 100% of the music today and it sounds a lot better than the shitty, degraded and neutered sound of Spotify,” he wrote. “If you support Spotify, you are destroying an art form. Business over art. Spotify plays the artists’s music at 5% of its quality and charges you like it was the real thing."
Young noted that he once had high hopes for Spotify — he met CEO and co-founder, Daniel Ek, when the company was first launched. "It sounded to me like he was really going to be getting into it," Young said. "That was a long time ago. I wonder what happened."