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Business News/ Special Report / Neil Young Will Return to Spotify After Two-Year Boycott Over Joe Rogan
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Neil Young Will Return to Spotify After Two-Year Boycott Over Joe Rogan

wsj

The singer pulled his catalog in 2022 saying the streaming platform was spreading fake information about Covid-19 vaccines through Rogan’s podcast.

Neil Young Will Return to Spotify After Two-Year Boycott Over Joe RoganPremium
Neil Young Will Return to Spotify After Two-Year Boycott Over Joe Rogan

Neil Young said he will allow his music to return to Spotify, two years after the singer pulled his catalog over opposition to the streaming service’s relationship with podcaster Joe Rogan.

Young penned an open letter to his manager and label in 2022 asking them to remove his music from the platform, saying it was spreading fake information about Covid-19 vaccines through Rogan’s show.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported Rogan had reached a deal that would allow his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience," to be distributed more widely, a change from his prior exclusive deal with Spotify. Rogan’s fresh deal—estimated to be worth as much as $250 million over its multiyear term—allows Spotify to distribute the show across several podcast platforms, the company said.

Announcing the return of his music to the service, the “Heart of Gold" and “Harvest Moon" singer said he now had no choice but to go back to Spotify.

“My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I had opposed at Spotify," he said in a statement on his website Tuesday, without mentioning Rogan by name.

“I cannot leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers," he added.

Spotify and representatives for Young didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 2022, Young’s crusade against what he deemed misinformation spread by Rogan led to other artists, including Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and David Crosby and India Arie, pulling their music from Spotify. Crosby, Stills & Nash and Arie have since returned to the platform.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines—potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them," Young wrote in the letter in 2022, which was later removed from his website.

Before the removal of his catalog, Young had 2.4 million followers and over six million monthly listeners on the platform.

At the time, Rogan’s podcast was under an exclusive licensing deal with Spotify that ties his payout to audience-number targets. It is estimated to land at around $180 million to $220 million by the end of its term this year.

Rogan’s show has been Spotify’s most listened to podcast for the last four years, according to the company. But it has also created tensions for Spotify. Shortly after the initial licensing deal was announced, some employees at the streaming company expressed concern about the podcast’s content, citing material they felt was anti-transgender.

In 2022, Rogan apologized for the growing backlash against him and Spotify, and pledged to be more balanced and informed about controversial topics and guests. “If I pissed you off, I’m sorry," he said in a 10-minute Instagram video at the time.

Spotify created a Covid-19 information hub in response to Young’s objections and reiterated that it wanted to embrace a diverse range of voices and differing opinions.

News Corp’s Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, has a content partnership with Spotify.

Anne Steele contributed to this article.

Write to Gareth Vipers at gareth.vipers@wsj.com

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