‘I stand with Neil Young’: Joni Mitchell tells Spotify to remove her music over ‘lies costing people their lives’

Fellow musician Barry Manilow denies claims of following in Neil Young’s footsteps

Maanya Sachdeva
Saturday 29 January 2022 06:06 GMT
Spotify to remove Neil Young's music

Joni Mitchell has told Spotify to remove her music catalogue “in solidarity with Neil Young” amid the backlash over Joe Rogan’s podcast.

Young issued an ultimatum to Spotify and asked that his music be deleted from the platform last Monday over its affiliation with Rogan’s The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which he said had spread “false information” regarding Covid-19 vaccines.

The streaming company has a $100m exclusivity contract with Rogan, for sole rights to his podcast.

“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” the 76-year-old musician wrote in a since-deleted letter that was posted to his website and addressed his management team at Lookout Management and Warner Bros.

Now, Joni Mitchell has issued a statement directing Spotify to remove her music from the platform as well, and extending her support to Young.

The singer announced her decision in a statement titled “I Stand With Neil Young”, published on her website on Friday.

While the statement didn’t name Rogan directly, it referred to “irresponsible people” who are “spreading lies that are costing people their lives”.

“I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue,” Mitchell’s statement said.

It also contained a link to an open letter to the streaming giant demanding it address the Covid misinformation on Rogan’s podcast.

The Independent has reached out to Spotify for comment.

The platform earlier complied with Young’s request and removed his music.

“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” a spokesperson for the streaming service told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, confirming that Spotify was in the process of pulling Young’s catalogue at the time.

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His music has since returned to SiriusXM in the US.

Mitchell, like Young, is a polio survivor. Many fans believe Young’s campaign against Spotify and The Joe Rogan Experience is rooted in his experience, which they see as a possible reason for his support for medical advances in vaccinating against deadly diseases.

Meanwhile, fellow musician Barry Manilow has shut down suggestions that he too will be removing his music from Spotify, after rumours emerged that he would follow in Young’s footsteps.

The singer said in a tweet on Saturday that he did not know where the reports had come from, but they had not come from him or his representatives.

Spotify’s decision to remove Young’s music instead of pulling Rogan’s podcast has been widely criticised online.

“If all artists were as punk rock as Neil Young maybe we wouldn’t be getting absolutely screwed by corporate streaming companies,” musician Margo Price tweeted after Spotify’s announcement on Wednesday.

#BoycottSpotify began trending on Twitter as the backlash against the Swedish company increased, with several social media users sharing their plans to stop supporting the world’s largest music streaming service.

“I stand with Neil Young, with civility, with decency, with freedom of speech. I don’t stand with anti-vaxxers spreading lies. I’ve been a subscriber for years but I refuse to help pay Joe Rogan’s salary,” said one user.

“We are three years into a pandemic, millions are dead, and Spotify is supporting Joe Rogan – perhaps the single biggest superspreader of Covid misinformation in the [world emoji]. Coz he brings in the [money emoji]. I’m cancelling my membership and you should too. #BoycottSpotify,” wrote another user.

On Saturday, singer James Blunt jokingly threatened to release new music if Spotify didn’t cut ties with Joe Rogan.

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