Original image found at NME
This last week, Neil Young threw down the gauntlet and told Spotify it was either him or Joe Rogan that needed to leave Spotify. And without missing a beat, Spotify went forward with Neil’s written request from his record company and pulled his music down from the popular streaming service.
Anti Vaxxer Rogan
In 2020, Joe Rogan entered into a multi-million dollar payday to only have his podcasts exclusively on Spotify, being the sole network of disinformation and bullshit propagation from this former actor who I used to like in shows like News Radio, Fear Factor and for the final two seasons of The Man Show. While Joe’s podcast started 10 years ago, it’s episodic content has morphed from a buddy buddy series of conversations to spewing COVID-19 misinformation and hosting quack doctors to do the same. I listened to various episodes over the years but it never grabbed me on most levels. Recent episodes over the last 18 months have left me shocked that there wasn’t some kind of filter for his mindless vocal wanderings that is causing dangerous avocations to his audience. I personally know several Gen-Xers that refuse to get vaccinated just because Rogan suggested or admonished not to.
I am guessing that most of Joe’s younger audience has no idea that he was in the shows I listed above. They might barely know him as the UFC post fight announcer. As for Neil, this same audience most likely has no clue who he is or know any of his songs. The only Young-named musician they most likely know is Young Jeezy [who goes by just Jeezy these days] and has nothing musically in common with the “Harvest” songwriter.
With more musicians following suit in leaving Spotify, the company has a situation on its hands it should solve. Or not. Maybe they will not give two shits and put all of their resources to go all in with Joe Rogan. I mean, they spent a reported $100 million over a multi-year contract to retain him. I seriously doubt that is their business model for the future. They do have COVID-19 rules for the platform, which according to a recent company statement, they have removed 20,000 episodes over COVID-19 related content. How many of these episodes have been on The Joe Rogan Experience? Who knows. If I had to guess and without doing any digging or research, none of his episodes have been pulled.
One solution Spotify sould do [and should have done to begin with] is attached audio disclaimers at the beginning of each episode where there is talk of taking Ivermectin or suggestions that the vaccine is not safe. While that will most likely not reverse Neil’s decision to put his music back on the streaming platform, it will show that Spotify actually cares to take steps to inform their listeners of unsafe advice than just the money that their star talent brings in.
A Business Decision
In the end, this is business decisions for both Spotify and Neil Young. Since there is no government process or entity calling for Joe Rogan to be removed from a private business podcast network, this really is not about anyone’s free speech being violated. For Neil, it was a bold statement that he felt he needed to make for his music to not remain on a platform that hosts a prominent anti-vaxxer [also to mention his strong pro-vaccination stance and his life saving polio vaccine he had at a young age] and for Spotify, it was their immediate support for $100 million-dollar Joe.
As for when/if Spotify will do what I call the right thing, who the hell knows. Guess we shall see how many artists it takes to call their business bluff.