- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2022

Spotify has chosen to keep Joe Rogan and remove Neil Young from its streaming platform after the folk-rocker demanded that it choose between them over his objections to the podcaster’s COVID-19 vaccine skepticism.

Rolling Stone reported this week that Mr. Young accused “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast of spreading COVID-19 misinformation in a now-deleted open letter on his website, asking Spotify to remove his music if the Swedish-owned streaming app would not stop “spreading false information about vaccines.”

“They can have Rogan or Young,” the 76-year-old Canadian-American musician wrote in the letter to his manager and record label. “But not both.”

A Spotify spokesperson said in a statement emailed Wednesday to the media it was choosing Mr. Rogan, the app’s most popular podcast at 11 million listeners, but it regrets Mr. Young’s decision and hopes to “welcome him back soon.”

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” Spotify said in the statement. “With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.”

Spotify reportedly paid $100 million for the exclusive rights to host Mr. Rogan’s show.

Young, whose music was still available Thursday morning on Spotify, said in a statement on his website that he stands to lose 60% of his streaming income from the decision but that he encourages other musicians to boycott Spotify. The original link to his open letter, titled “A-Message-to-Spotify,” now leads to a blank page.

“Misinformation about COVID cannot be accepted,” Mr. Young wrote in the statement posted Wednesday. “I sincerely hope that other artists can make a move, but I really can’t expect that to happen.”

Mr. Rogan has not made any statement to the media on the dispute.

The 54-year-old former reality television star, standup comic and mixed martial artist has frequently shared his skepticism about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines on the air.

YouTube recently removed an episode of the show that featured guest Richard Malone, an “anti-vaxxer epidemiologist” banned from Twitter, comparing current U.S. health policies to those of Weimar Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Earlier this month, the New York Post reported that 270 medical experts sent a letter to Spotify that called Mr. Rogan a “menace to public health” who needs to be censored.

In an April 29 podcast episode, Mr. Rogan defended his frequent observation that “healthy young people” do not need a vaccine.

“I’m not an anti-vaxx person,” he said. “In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated. I just said I don’t think if you’re a young healthy person you need it.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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