Last week, Spotify began removing songs by musician great Neil Young after he said he didn’t want his music appearing on the same platform as anti-vaccine podcaster Joe Rogan. The music streaming giant hasn’t left the spotlight since then, though, and things are only starting to heat up.
Firstly, a bit of context. Joe Rogan, who is infamously divisive where a lot of things (read: almost everything he says) are concerned, struck a $US100 million deal with Spotify. That deal, which translates to a cool $139 million in Aussie terms, sees Spotify walk away with exclusive rights to Rogan’s show, The Joe Rogan Experience.
But Young, a veteran rocker who had about 6 million monthly listeners of his music on Spotify, wanted no part of the platform, giving Spotify an ultimatum: keep Joe Rogan or me.
Young, a polio survivor, published an open letter to his management team last week explaining his opposition to Rogan’s anti-vaccine misinformation, saying it would get people killed. Rolling Stone reported Young as saying, “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them”.
He’s not the only one who’s pissed that Spotify is backing Rogan.
Joni Mitchell has thrown her support behind the anti-Rogan movement and was the next music superstar to take their catalogue off Spotify. Mitchell said it was “irresponsible” to spread lies.
In a post made by Mitchell on her website, she cited Young’s stance as a motivating factor behind her decision, as well as a letter from 270 scientific and medical experts calling for Spotify to implement a misinformation policy in response to contentious claims aired by Dr Robert Malone on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience.
Podcaster Brené Brown has also announced she will no longer be producing episodes for the foreseeable future, the ABC reports. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also relayed their “concerns” to Spotify over COVID misinformation but will continue to work with the platform.
James Blunt, who has clearly accepted his music’s memefullness, even joked he’d release new music if Rogan wasn’t removed from Spotify.
Your turn, Nickelback.
But jokes aside, this is a shitshow.
Spotify on Monday broke its silence on the issue, kind-of. It published a piece titled: Spotify’s Platform Rules and Approach to COVID-19.
There’s a lot to digest, but what stood out to me is in the first paragraph:
“To our very core, we believe that listening is everything. Pick almost any issue and you will find people and opinions on either side of it. Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly. We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users. In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
Spotify went on to say that it has become clear that the platform has an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to “widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time”. If only they understood what a lot of people want them to do is remove Rogan’s podcast.
Accompanying the blog post was the release of Spotify’s platform rules. It said Spotify is also working on adding a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19. This advisory will direct listeners to Spotify’s dedicated COVID-19 Hub.
Concluding the blog post was:
“I trust our policies, the research and expertise that inform their development, and our aspiration to apply them in a way that allows for broad debate and discussion, within the lines. We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike. That doesn’t mean that we always get it right, but we are committed to learning, growing and evolving.”
Spotify is, hands down, the best music streaming service available to music mega fans. If you’re anything like me (clocking up over 90,000 minutes of listening in 2021), using a specific streaming service is super important.
After years of listening, and a bucketload of data on what music I listen to, Spotify fails to disappoint every time it suggests something new to me. I used Apple Music to delve into a Home Pod Mini review and honestly, maybe after a month-or-so, it might be on-par with Spotify, but Spotify’s algorithm has had years to perfect what I like. Apple Music failed to live up to any decent level of what would make me happy. So jumping ship would feel on-par with a break up. But, it’s bigger picture time.
So if you want to join the masses in boycotting Spotify until it removes Rogan, you can consider jumping ship to (in alphabetical order):
- Apple Music – an Individual Plan will set you back $11.99 per month after a three-month free trial. The Apple Music Family Plan, which allows you to share your account with up to five people and gives each member a personal account, is $17.99 per month. Apple Music Student Plan is $5.99 per month and the new Voice Plan will cost $5.99 per month.
- Amazon Music Unlimited – after a 30-day free trial, Amazon Music Unlimited will set you back $11.99 a month.
- Deezer – Deezer will also give you one month free, then its Premium tier will cost you $12.99 a month. For Deezer Family, you’ll also get a free 30 days, before the monthly cost will shoot up to $19.99.
- Tidal – for $11.99 a month, you can get Tidal Premium. This jumps to $17.99 a month for Tidal HiFi and $23.99 a month for Tidal HiFi Plus. Tidal Family Premium costs $17.99 a month and includes up to six family members and students will pay $5.99 a month for Tidal Student Premium, $8.99 for Tidal Student HiFi and $11.99 for Tidal Student HiFi Plus.
- YouTube Music – an individual plan costs $11.99 a month and the family plan costs $17.99 a month for up to six family members. YouTube Music Premium for students is only $5.99 a month.
Multiple perspectives are obviously important, but they’re dangerous if they’re scientifically invalid. While this is a COVID-19 misinformation battle on the surface, I can’t forget that Rogan’s words have hurt many in the past.