Joe Rogan Replies to Neil Young Spotify Controversy

Neil Young Spotify
Photo Credit: Pierre Metivier

Joe Rogan weighed in on the Neil Young Spotify controversy plaguing his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” saying he’s “not trying to promote misinformation.”

In a nearly 10-minute long Instagram post uploaded on Sunday night, Rogan said, “… there’s a lot of people that have a distorted perception of what I do, maybe based on sound bites or based on headlines of articles that are disparaging.” Rogen defended his choice of interviewing vaccine skeptics Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Robert Malone on the podcast. Rogan described the guests as “very highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people, and they have an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative.”

Neil Young Spotify: Joe Rogan On The Defensive

Rogan continued: “I wanted to hear what their opinion is, I had them on, and because of that, those episodes in particular were labeled as being dangerous — they had dangerous misinformation.” Rogan added he had a problem with the word “misinformation” because ideas that were considered misinformation not long ago are now accepted as fact. To this point, Rogan cited examples like the inefficacy of cloth masks and the ability to be infected with COVID-19 after vaccination.

How The Spotify “Joe Rogan Experience” COVID Controversy Started

The controversy did not directly begin with Neil Young’s request to remove his music from the Spotify platform. 

Instead, it began with an open letter sent to Spotify signed by more than 260 doctors, scientists, nurses, health professionals and academics on Jan. 10. In the letter, they called on the streaming platform to “implement a misinformation policy,” specifically citing “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Rogan’s podcast and its “concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.” That letter highlighted a Dec. 31 episode in which Rogan’s guest was scientist Robert Malone, who promoted an upcoming anti-vaccine rally. Malone’s claims regarding the vaccine and credentials were recently vilified in a posting on the Israeli Ministry Of Health website

Spotify tried to mollify the criticism by pledging to apply content advisory labels on podcasts about COVID-19

Spotify Takes A Hit

Prior to the controversy, Spotify was having a banner financial year. According to a report from IFPI’s Global Music, paid subscription streaming revenues increased by 18.5% in 2020 and are widely expected to increase even higher for 2021.

Spotify captured 31% of total U.S. subscribers, followed by Apple Music (AAPL) with 15%, Amazon Music (AMZN) and Tencent (TCEHY) both at 13%, and YouTube Music (GOOGL) rounding out the top five at 8%.

But in a three-day span of Jan 26-28th, coinciding with the Neil Young announcement to remove his music off the platform, Spotify’s stock fell 6%, equaling about $2.1 billion in value. Other artists like Joni Mitchell, Pearl Jam, and Nils Lofgren have also joined the protest, telling the platform to remove their music. 

Neil Young Denies Censorship 

Perhaps responding to criticism that he was trying to censor free speech or cancel anyone, Neil Young posted a new message on his “Neil Young Archives” website: “I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship. 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.”

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