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The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Why Neil Young thinks Spotify doesn’t have a ‘heart of gold’


Joe Rogan prepares to oppose Spotify.

In the age of streaming, Spotify has managed to become about as successful as a music streaming service could be. To be more specific, “streaming now accounts for 84 percent of sales revenues in the United States, according to industry data, and Spotify has 172 million paying subscribers—about 31 percent of the worldwide total, and more than double that of its closest competitor, Apple Music, according to Midia Research, a market research firm” (1). Offering albums from artists both old and new, along with podcasts and playlists, it may seem as if Spotify has it all. Well, maybe it did, but that hold is gradually loosening.
Recently, Neil Young—a famous musical artist known for both his involvement in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and his successful solo career—stated in an open letter to Spotify that they could have either Joe Rogan or Neil Young. They could not have both. The reason? Joe Rogan on his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” has shared his skepticism of COVID-19 vaccines multiple times. In his letter, Young stated that the podcast was “​​spreading fake information about vaccines—potentially causing death to those who believe this disinformation spread by them” (2). “The Joe Rogan Experience” is a podcast exclusive to Spotify, so the letter was written with the streaming service solely in mind. The ball was in their court.
While the letter has since been deleted, Spotify heard Neil Young’s request and made their choice. They chose Rogan. And, as Young said, they got to keep Joe Rogan at the expense of Neil Young. However, that wasn’t the end of the story. Immediately following Young’s exit from Spotify came fellow musician Joni Mitchell’s exit. After that were Nils Lofgren, member of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band, Graham Nash and India Arie. The streaming platform still hasn’t dropped Rogan, but instead has stated that they would put a content advisory on podcast episodes that discuss COVID-19 (3).
Both Young and Mitchell are polio survivors who contracted the disease before a vaccine could have immunized them (4). It is understandable that they would be against vaccine misinformation. India Arie cited Rogan’s comments towards race on his podcast, calling them problematic (5). The stand against Spotify seems to be entirely based around moral issues, however, that isn’t the only problem that artists have with the platform. 
A member of the band Eve 6 tweeted out, “our stupid band gets close to a million monthly streams on Spotify. Spotify pays out .003 cents per stream. 100 percent of that goes to our former label Sony who is a part owner of Spotify. this is why I’m mad” (6). Musicians have dealt with these low rates in their own ways. For example, many bands have tried to generate a great deal of their revenue through live shows. However, as the pandemic has negatively affected events such as live shows in fairly obvious ways, there are even less options for those known as “starving artists.”
So, will new artists join older artists in leaving Spotify? Will this stay an issue of morality, or will it become one of artists’ compensation? Or, in other words, will the conversation stay on Joe Rogan, or will it move to what will happen to the 0.997 cents that aren’t going to those who create what gets streamed? I don’t know, and the truth is, I’m just as interested as you. So, stay tuned…I know I’ll be.

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/arts/music/spotify-rogan-neil-young.html
  2. cnn.com/2022/01/25/entertainment/neil-young-spotify-joe-rogan-vaccine-misinformation-cec/index.html
  3. https://newsroom.spotify.com/2022-01-30/spotifys-platform-rules-and-approach-to-covid-19/
  4. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-01-28/joni-mitchell-music-removed-spotify-neil-young-joe-rogan 
  5. https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/01/entertainment/india-arie-joe-rogan-spotify-race-cec/index.html 
  6. https://twitter.com/eve6?s=11 
About the Contributor
Kyle Makkas, Humor Writer