Spotify made the right choice



Spotify stood by Joe Rogan after his involvement in disinformation controversy.

On Jan. 26, Neil Young kept true to his earlier words and officially removed his music from Spotify’s platform. The Canadian American singer and songwriter had asked Spotify to make a choice. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young stated in an open letter on Jan. 24. This letter has since been deleted and replaced with a new open letter, “More Songs and Less Sound,” in which Young urges his fans to leave Spotify and move to alternative music platforms. Spotify’s decision to “choose” Joe Rogan over Neil Young is controversial, but one can hardly expect the platform to have chosen differently; while Joe Rogan’s content may constitute misinformation, Spotify made the right call in not responding to Young’s threats.
Spotify has faced a lot of scrutiny over their decision not to remove Joe Rogan, who signed a $100 million deal with Spotify back in 2020, and his podcast from their platform. As a platform with more than 80 million tracks, including more than 3 million podcasts, Spotify has become the default audio entertainment platform for millions; a decision to remove one of its most popular content creators would be highly controversial and damaging to the platform’s reputation. In addition, Spotify did not, like some seem to believe, “force” Young to leave its platform. Young’s decision to leave Spotify was on his own accord and made after Spotify’s lack of action in response to his request for the platform to remove Rogan’s show. Perhaps the most important point is that Young initiated the incident by threatening Spotify with the removal of his music, and that in itself puts him in the wrong; regardless of reputation and popularity, an artist’s content and career should not be jeopardised simply because another artist forces it. While Young had the right incentives, the method he chose was much too aggressive and destructive for Spotify to consider his petition.
However, Young’s petition did push forward change in this saga. In an indirect response to the controversy, Spotify decided to add content labels to potential COVID-related misinformation to warn its users of such content. Young’s actions also prompted a response from Rogan, who promised to try and “offer more balance” on his show.