Neil Young is returning to Spotify after boycotting platform over Joe Rogan and COVID-19 misinformation

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Neil Young says he is returning to Spotify after removing his music from the streaming platform to boycott podcaster Joe Rogan. Young voluntarily removed his music from Spotify in 2022 after Rogan, whose podcast was exclusively on Spotify, had a controversial infectious disease expert on as a guest during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Spotify, the #1 streamer of low res music in the world – Spotify, where you get less quality than we made, will now be home of my music again,” a post on the Neil Young Archives website reads, taking a dig at the service. 

In 2022, Rogan interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, who was banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation on COVID-19. Malone had an anti-vaccine and a group of health experts penned a letter to Spotify calling on the platform to remove Rogan after his “highly controversial episode” with the doctor. 

The group said Rogan and Malone made claims on the show that have been discredited. Young also spoke up, saying Spotify was complicit in spreading misinformation.

The artist, known for hits like “Harvest Moon” and “Heart of Gold,” told the company that it could have his music or Rogan’s podcast — “not both.” 

Spotify agreed to remove Young’s music from the service and his hits hadn’t been available on the platform since.

But last month, Rogan signed a new deal with Spotify, which allows his podcast to be streamed on other platforms like YouTube and Apple, according to Associated Press.

Young said he can’t leave music services like Apple and Amazon like he did Spotify, because he would be left with very few options to stream his music. So, despite the fact that they are now streaming Rogan’s podcast, he is staying on other platforms and returning to Spotify. 

He said he hopes Spotify improves their sound quality, suggesting the company add a limited Hi Res and “build from there.”

Young’s decision to remove his songs from Spotify gained support from fellow artist Joni Mitchell, who removed all of her albums except for a live album recorded with the BBC in 2023, which is still her only music on the platform. 

Even WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, praised Young’s strong stance against vaccine misinformation. “[Neil Young], thanks for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies around #COVID19 vaccination,” he tweeted. “Public and private sector, in particular #socialmedia platforms, media, individuals – we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic.”

After Young and Mitchell left the platform, Spotify said it would add an advisory to podcasts that discuss COVID-19

Rogan responded, saying he is happy to have the disclaimer. “I’m not trying to promote misinformation, I’m not trying to be controversial,” he said. “I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than to just talk to people.”

Rogan has said he had no hard feelings toward Young or Mitchell. 

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