Neil Young has urged Spotify employees to quit the company in the wake of the fallout involving Joe Rogan, which has spiraled from the podcaster’s use of his platform to air Covid-19 misinformation to his earlier, frequent use of a racial slur on his show. Young is now targeting Spotify CEO Daniel Ek as the company’s chief problem.
“To the musicians and creators in this world, I say this: You must be able to find a better place than Spotify to be the home of your art,” Young wrote in a post on his Neil Young Archives site. “To the workers at Spotify, I say Daniel Ek is your problem — not Joe Rogan. Ek pulls the strings. Get out of the place before it eats up your soul. The goals stated by Ek are about numbers — not art, not creativity.”
Ek has made several awkward statements on the issue in the two weeks since Young asked for his music to be removed from the platform, all of which said that he does not plan to silence or cancel Rogan, even as the controversy expanded with the release of a video compiling multiple instances of the popular podcaster — who has the No. 1 rated show on the platform, via a reported $100 million deal with Spotify — using the N-word on his show. Rogan has apologized for both situations, particularly the latter; in a letter to the Spotify staff over the weekend, Ek announced the company would be investing $100 million in “marginalized” groups, although he did not specify exactly how that money would be spent. Ek has also confirmed Spotify will attach disclaimers to podcasts covering topics such as COVID-19.
Young was the first major artist to remove his music from Spotify in protest of Joe Rogan and the COVID misinformation spread on his Spotify-exclusive podcast. Artists such as Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash and India Arie soon followed.
Young wrote in a blog post published Jan. 28 that he “supports free speech” and “has never been in favor of censorship,” but he added about the Rogan situation, “Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”
The musician then called out Spotify for cutting the quality of the music it streams, writing, “Amazon, Apple Music and Qobuz deliver up to 100% of the music today and it sounds a lot better than the shitty, degraded and neutered sound of Spotify. If you support Spotify, you are destroying an art form. Business over art. Spotify plays the artists’s music at 5% of its quality and charges you like it was the real thing.”
Read Young’s latest blog post over on the The Neil Young Archives website.
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