Major Labels

Removing music from Spotify cost Neil Young and WMG 60% of his streaming income

Spotify removed virtually all of Neil Young’s music late Wednesday after he wrote in protest of Spotify exclusive podcaster Joe Rogan’s false statements about the Covid-19 vaccine.

“They can have (Joe) Rogan or Young,” Young wrote in a now deleted open letter to his manager and an executive at his label WMGs’ Warner Brothers Reprise. “Not both.”

Young has more than 6 million followers on Spotify. So far his protest is isolated, but could spell trouble for the streamer if more popular artists follow.

60% Loss

In a new letter on site posted after the takedown, Young wrote, “Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world, almost every record I have ever released is available – my life’s music – a huge loss for my record company to absorb. Yet my friends at WARNER BROTHERS REPRISE stood with me, recognizing the threat the COVID misinformation on SPOTIFY posed to the world – particularly for our young people who think everything they hear on SPOTIFY is true. Unfortunately it is not.

A few Neil Young songs remain on Spotify including his performance at Live Aid as well collaborations with Crosby, Stills, Nash and others.

The Neil Young Artist page is almost, empty particularly given his extensive catalog.

The “This Is Neil Young” playlist is filled with mostly unavailable greyed out songs.

Official Spotify Statement

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators,” Spotify said in a statement. “We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

MORE: Neil Young wants his music pulled unless Spotify bans Joe Rogan’s vaccine misinformation

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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