On Jan. 25, musician Neil Young removed his discography from Spotify in response to the application’s continued unassertiveness with podcaster Joe Rogan’s COVID-19 misinformation. This has created a new movement from musicians to remove their music to pressure streaming services like Spotify to better police misinformation.
Neil Young’s career has spanned the past 60 years, with everything from his start with Buffalo Springfield through to his solo work. At the age of five, Young contracted polio. This can be cited as a major reason as to why he is pro-vaccination; the vaccine was not an option for him in 1951. He has proven himself to be an activist for a myriad of causes. One of his most famous acts of protest was “Ohio” with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young after four Kent State University students were shot for protesting the Vietnam War. Young has continued to support human rights, now supporting the right to scientifically backed information on the coronavirus pandemic.
Joe Rogan, the face of podcasting for several years with his “Joe Rogan Experience,” has found recent controversy and accusations that he is spreading of COVID-19 misinformation. The Rolling Stone reported on a group of doctors advocating for the removal of the false claims, specifically from Rogan, being spread on Spotify. It was stated in the Rolling Stone’s article that Rogan claimed, “‘mass formation psychosis’ is responsible for people believing in the efficacy of vaccines,” among other statements.
Young wrote a statement on Jan. 28 on his stance on censorship, as this situation can be misconstrued as such, saying, “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.”
Since Young’s strong stance was taken on the matter, others have started to join. Musician Joni Mitchell has announced that she will be following suit, saying, “Irresponsible people 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,” on Jan. 28. Nils Lofgren, member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, also stated that he will be removing his music from Spotify in support. What will become of the movement started by Young? For now, he advised his fans in his previously mentioned statement to follow him to platforms such as Apple Music, Amazon Music or Qobuz. Ensuring that mass platforms like Spotify are spreading correct information provided by licensed medical doctors on all health matters, especially the coronavirus, is vital. For more information pertaining to COVID-19, visit the CDC website.