He’s seen the needle, and the damage done. Decidedly not a friend of the pod, legendary music star Neil Young has asked his team to pull his music off Spotify in response to the “fake information about vaccines” being spread on the streaming platform.
In an open letter to his team published Monday, Young singled out podcast The Joe Rogan Experience as a linchpin of misinformation about vaccines. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote, according to Rolling Stone. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Young’s manager, Frank Gironda, confirmed to The Daily Beast that the “Heart of Gold” singer had published the letter on Monday. “It’s something that’s really important to Neil,” Gironda said. “He’s very upset about this disinformation.”
Gironda explained that Young had sent him the letter, addressed to him and Tom Corson, a top executive at Warner Records. Gironda said he and the singer-songwriter had spoken about it. “We’re trying to figure this out right now,” he added.
The letter was posted to the Neil Young Archives on Monday afternoon, but the link was broken as of this writing. Gironda said he wasn’t sure about why the letter might be down.
The Joe Rogan Experience is the world’s most popular podcast and a huge cash cow for Spotify, which acquired its exclusive streaming rights in 2020 in a multiyear deal with Rogan reportedly worth over $100 million.
A typical episode of the podcast, billed as “a long form conversation,” can average as many as 11 million listeners, and often runs over three hours in length. One such episode was a December release with guest Dr. Robert Malone, an anti-vaccine virologist. Malone used Rogan’s platform to propagate a number of baseless claims, bizarrely blaming “mass formation psychosis” for people’s belief in vaccines as a tool to prevent severe illness and death.
Malone told the comedian that a “third of the population [is] basically being hypnotized” into believing medical information from top infectious disease experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, according to The Washington Post. The podcast episode went viral and was shared tens of thousands of times on Spotify alone.
In January, more than 200 medical professionals and science educators signed an open letter to Spotify, condemning the platform for failing to act on vaccine misinformation. The letter called Rogan a “menace to public health.”
Young, who has more than 6 million followers on Spotify, cited The Joe Rogan Experience’s “tremendous influence” as a source of concern in his letter, Rolling Stone reported. “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy,” the singer wrote.