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We rewound the Spotify-Neil Young affair

ATwhen he blows out the fifty candles of his mythical album Harvest, Neil Young might have preferred to avoid this bloodshed. Spotify spreads false information about vaccines, potentially causing the death of those who believe in the misinformation it spreads,” the American-Canadian singer denounced on January 25. At the heart of the controversy, the most listened to podcast across the Atlantic, “The Joe Rogan Experience”. Its presenter, Joe Rogan, was poached by Spotify in 2020, for the modest sum of 100 million dollars. Since the start of the health crisis, the show has regularly given the floor to antivax. It’s too much for Neil Young. “I want you to let Spotify know today that I want all my music removed from their platform,” he added, addressing his label, Warner.

Thing said, thing done. On January 27, two days after his request, his catalog disappeared from the world’s leading music streaming platform. But the folk rock star is no match for it. With 2.4 million subscribers and 6 million listeners per month, he can’t compete with Joe Rogan and his 11 million listeners per episode. In view of the imbalance on the scale, the Swedish leader in music streaming initially ranks behind its star host. “We have detailed content policies in place and have removed over 20,000 Covid-related podcast episodes since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to be able to welcome him back soon,” the band’s spokesperson said.

Joni Mitchell to the rescue

But the Stock Exchange does not hear it that way. Between January 25 and 28, Spotify’s share price plummeted 6%, sending $2.1 billion up in smoke. A hard blow, especially since the case benefits its competitors. In a tweet, Apple Music describes itself as the “home of Neil Young”, as the singer appears to be getting closer to Amazon Music. He writes on his Twitter account: “Anyone looking for my music can easily go to Amazon Music […] All new listeners will get four months free. »

In Neil Young’s wake, other artists have jumped ship. At first, Joni Mitchell, his former accomplice from the time of Laurel Canyon, decided in turn to withdraw his music from Spotify before being joined by Nils Lofgren, guitarist and member of Crazy Horse. On January 30, the latter encourages “all musicians, artists and music lovers around the world to join” him and “to cut with Spotify”.

“I love Neil Young”, ended up confessing Joe Rogan, on January 31, in a video, where he responds to the controversy on Instagram. He admits his show was “out of control” and vows to be more balanced and informative. Within the Swedish company, the case goes up to the highest level. “Based on the feedback we’ve had over the past few weeks, it became clear to me that we needed to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities,” says Daniel Ek, founder and CEO of Spotify, in a statement. The music streaming giant will therefore introduce links guiding information for podcasts evoking the Covid. The case, which puts the question of the responsibility and ethical rules of music streaming companies in terms of information at the center, did not fall on deaf ears.

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