Rock legend Neil Young has taken a noteworthy stand against vaccine misinformation that could cost him a not insignificant amount of money. Yesterday, Young published a since-deleted letter, written to his label and management, saying that he wants his music immediately removed from Spotify because the streaming platform hosts the controversial yet massively popular podcast the Joe Rogan Experience,.
“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,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Young, 76, has been a strong advocate for vaccines and for the music industry taking measures to curtail the spread of the virus. In August 2021, he criticized major show promoters like Live Nation and AEG for continuing to stage concerts (although they did require proof of vaccinations or a recent negative test).
“Live Nation, AEG, and the other big promoters could shut this down if they could just forget about making money for a while. They control much of the entertainment business. They hold the power to stop shows where thousands congregate and spread,” he said last year. “It’s money that keeps it going. Money that motivates the spreading. The big promoters are responsible for super spreaders.” Young said last December that he will not be touring until the pandemic ends.
On his show last April, Rogan stressed that young people do not need to get the COVID-19 vaccine, though he later said, “I”m not an anti-vax person. I believe they’re safe and encourage many people to take them.” He’s also advocated for the use of ivermectin, a drug largely used to treat animals that is dangerous to use and has no efficacy against the coronavirus.
Rogan has also interviewed prominent figures who are critical of vaccines and vaccine mandates including Robert Malone, a scientist who claims to be one of the inventors of mRNA vaccines. A group of 270 scientists wrote a letter to Spotify demanding the Malone episode be taken down, which remains up on the streaming service but is not on YouTube.
It’s not yet clear how Spotify will respond, but given that the company signed Rogan to a $100 million exclusive deal in May 2020, and the Joe Rogan Experience was Spotify’s most popular podcast in 2021, it seems unlikely that they will cede to Young’s demands. Fortunately, the rocker has his own subscription service, The Neil Young Archives, to fall back on if need be.