by Neve Kelley
What happens when musical artists use
their voices for more than singing?
You may know Neil Young from his hit song “Harvest Moon” or other chart-toppers like “Our House” and “Teach Your Children” with the group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In recent months, Young and other big names in music have asked Spotify, the music streaming service, to remove their music from the platform. Neil Young was the first to make a stand, followed by Joni Mitchell, then Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and others. These artists are protesting Spotify because it has given a platform to Joe Rogan, an American podcaster who hosts “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, who has been accused of promoting misinformation regarding COVID-19. In a post on his website, Young wrote that Spotify has “become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation.” Young realized that he could not support Spotify’s “life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.”
The criticism of Joe Rogan was sparked by a group of scientists, professors, and health experts asking Spotify to remove an episode of his podcast. The episode, from December 31st, 2021, allegedly promoted dangerous falsehoods about the pandemic and the vaccine (The New York Times). Spotify responded to the issue, saying it wants “all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” giving creators freedom to create, rather than censoring their content (The New York Times). Spotify hopes to welcome Young back to its platform soon, but he’s made it clear that it is either Young or Rogan, not both.
Joni Mitchell chose to join Neil Young in protest just days after. Mitchell is widely popular on Spotify with nearly 3.7 million monthly listeners. Her songs “Big Yellow Taxi” and “A Case of You” have gotten more than 100 million streams, so it is clear her work will be missed on the platform. Like Young, Mitchell posted a statement to her website asking
Spotify to remove her music from the platform immediately. Mitchell said she stands in solidarity with Young and she believes “irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives.” Mitchell also used her platform to cite An Open Letter to Spotify, which called for Spotify to take action against mass-misinformation events that occur on its platform. This letter was signed by hundreds of members of the medical community who believed Spotify must act immediately on the issue.
Though fans of these artists have been disappointed by the news, many are supportive of the cause they are fighting for. Mitchell and Young are both polio survivors—vaccines saved their lives—so understandably, misinformation about vaccines is not something they take
lightly. Despite the protest, Wall Street analysts and investors are not convinced this will affect the company. Tim Nollen, an analyst at Macquarie Capital said, “If the movement is picked up by lots of artists that demand to leave the platform, then Spotify has to make a decision,” but as of now, he feels like Spotify is safe (Time Magazine). While I do dislike that Spotify has given a platform to a content creator who spreads falsehoods about COVID-19, I personally have not boycotted Spotify. However, I support the cause that Young, Mitchell, and other artists are fighting for and hope that Spotify considers making a change.
Here is a list of additional artists who have boycotted Spotify:
About Neve Kelley
Neve Kelley a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Richwoods High School. In addition to being in an academically rigorous program, she is also heavily involved in community and school theatre productions. She takes private voice lessons and has been involved with choir and madrigals at Richwoods. Kelley is the co-editor in chief of her school paper, sits on the executive board of student council, and is in various school clubs. She also spends much of her time working as a barista at Leaves ‘n Beans in Peoria Heights.
Art by Ellie Kraemer
Ellie Kraemer is a sophomore and an animation major at Bradley University who lives and breathes her artwork. Becoming a professional artist and animator has been a goal of hers for many years, as various works of digital art and experience have held a pivotal role in her life. Intrigued by the diverse storytelling prowess of interactive media, she aims to get involved in the productions of visuals for video games and animated series after graduation. You can find more of her work at ekraemer.myportfolio.com.