Neil Young wasn’t bluffing.
Spotify confirmed on Wednesday that it has begun removing Young’s music from the streaming service, two days after the star briefly posted a public letter calling on Spotify to choose between him and Joe Rogan, the star podcast host who has been accused of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines.
“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” Spotify said in a 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 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”
Young’s music was expected to be fully removed from Spotify within hours. The news that Spotify was removing Young’s music was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In his letter, which Young had addressed to his label, Warner Records, and his manager, he said: “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform. I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform.”
He added: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
The letter was removed from Young’s website soon after it was posted, though it drew wide news media attention.
Rogan, whose show “The Joe Rogan Experience” is the most popular podcast on Spotify, has come under fire for an episode on Dec. 31 that featured Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious-disease expert.
This month, hundreds of scientists, professors and public health experts asked Spotify to take down the episode, which they said promoted “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines.”
Rogan, a comedian and actor, signed an exclusive podcast deal with Spotify in 2020 that has been reported to be worth $100 million, though Spotify has not confirmed that figure.
Spotify has defended Rogan in the past, including after an episode that featured the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in 2020.
“We want creators to create,” Daniel Ek, the chief executive and co-founder of Spotify, told The Financial Times then. “It’s what they do best. We’re not looking to play a role in what they should say.”
Spotify has 318 million monthly listeners around the world, including 172 million who pay for subscriptions, according to the company’s most recent financial disclosures.