Joni Mitchell has declared her support for Neil Young, announcing plans to remove her discography from Spotify in protest of the service platforming misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Young demanded that his music be pulled from Spotify at the start of the week, asserting in a since-deleted open letter to his management that content like the Joe Rogan Experience podcast “spread[s] false information about vaccines”. Spotify obliged, confirming on Wednesday (January 26) that Young’s content would indeed be removed from the platform.
The saga drew mixed reception from the wider music industry – the widow of Gang Of Four‘s Andy Gill criticised Spotify for keeping Rogan’s podcast on the platform, for example, while Disturbed frontman Dave Draiman applauded Spotify for “not capitulating to the mob”. Most seemed to side with Young, however, with rival platforms Apple Music and Tidal both voicing support for the legendary folk-rocker.
Mitchell has now joined the cohort of acts standing in solidarity with Young, sharing in a statement to her website that she, too, would be ditching Spotify over its conduct surrounding vaccine misinformation. While she stopped short of naming Rogan – who has a $100million exclusivity contract with Spotify – she did share a link to the open letter signed by hundreds of scientists and medical professionals hitting out at Rogan’s podcast.
“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” Mitchell wrote yesterday (January 28). “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.”
NME has reached out to Spotify for comment. At the time of writing, Mitchell’s catalogue is still accessible via the platform.
In the open letter Mitchell linked, 270 members of the global science and medical community agreed that Rogan’s actions were “not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous”.
As the letter stated: “By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.”
Other high-profile names to hit out at Rogan for his anti-vax sentiments include Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, who labelled him a “fucking moron”, and Steve Albini, who described Rogan’s content as “trash garbage”.
After his catalogue was pulled from Spotify, Young shared a statement claiming that without his presence on the platform, he stood to lose 60 per cent of his streaming income. While he admitted it was “a huge loss” for his labels, Warner and Reprise, he thanked them for “recognizing the threat [that] the COVID misinformation on Spotify posed to the world”.
Last month, Young asserted that he wouldn’t return to performing live until the pandemic was “beat”, telling Howard Stern that fans won’t see him “playing to a bunch of people with no masks on”. Back in August, Young called on promoters to cancel “super-spreader” COVID-era gigs.
Meanwhile, Mitchell recently shared the first official video for her classic track ‘River’, initially released in 1971. It came after she was celebrated at the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors, where she received a lifetime achievement award. At the event, the likes of Ellie Goulding, Norah Jones and Brittany Howard all paid tribute to the iconic musician, performing their own versions of some of her best-loved songs.