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Listening to music on a phone

Musicians depart Spotify over misinformation concerns

If you’re fan of either Neil Young or Joni Mitchel and subscribe to Spotify, you may want to consider a different service for your music needs, at least for the moment.

Actions have consequences, and as Spotify is learning this week, running a podcast and program accused of transmitting misinformation is revealing just what those consequences could be, as two of the world’s remarkable musicians with decades-long careers leave the music service, taking their music catalogues with them.

Earlier in the week, Neil Young kicked the exodus off with a bit of an ultimatum and a message to Spotify that has since been deleted, citing that it was either his music or one of Spotify’s podcasts. Spotify may well be known for music, but over the past couple of years, has expanded deeply into podcasts, and one of its major programs has recently been accused of spreading misinformation about covid vaccines.

Recently, nearly 300 experts had asked Spotify to build a policy to combat misinformation citing concerns with The Joe Rogan Experience, which Spotify runs on its service and paid big money for back in 2020 As it is, Neil Young’s website runs a version of that letter from the nearly 300 scientists.

This author has never actually heard the program — and from the sounds of things, that may be a good thing — but many people have, and with coronavirus vaccine misinformation literally killing people, Neil Young appears to be the first musician to take a stand against the platform, demanding his music be taken out of Spotify, which we’ve seen in Australia. And he’s not the only one.

A second artist is following Young this week, as a misinformation protest on Spotify sparks a bit of an exodus by major artists, with Joni Mitchell joining in, as well.

At the end of the week, Joni Mitchell has announced she’ll remove her catalogue of songs from Spotify, noting on her website that she stands with Neil Young:

“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” wrote Mitchell on her website. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

While it’s not yet known if this will create a bit of a long-running exodus for other artists, it’s pretty clear that vaccine misinformation is a problem, and with Spotify choosing one side over the other, some artists are taking a stand in what could be a movement that grows.

As of the time of publishing, Mitchell’s music hadn’t been removed from Spotify in Australia, but Young’s had, though other services clearly aren’t affected in quite the same way, with Apple Music even making a little point about it on Twitter.

For now, it’s just the two big-name artists, though we’ll be curious to see if this grows into more, and if Spotify eventually makes a call on dealing with misinformation on its platform. However, if you’re looking for the music of either Neil Young or Joni Mitchell, you’ll find it on the other expected services, such as Apple Music and YouTube, which clearly don’t have the same issues as Spotify right now.

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