Joni Mitchell says she is standing “in solidarity” with Neil Young by removing her music from Spotify following controversy over the spread of coronavirus misinformation. The Grammy award-winning singer said the streaming giant was allowing “irresponsible people” to spread lies that were “costing people their lives”.
It comes after Young told Spotify to choose between him and podcaster Joe Rogan , who he accused of spreading anti-vax views on his podcast - The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Stand-up comedian Rogan has previously attracted controversy for suggesting the young and healthy should not get vaccinated. Spotify acquired The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in 2020, reportedly for more than 100 million dollars (£77m) and it is reportedly downloaded almost 200 million times a month.
Mitchell shared an open letter signed by a coalition of medical professionals calling on Spotify to take action against “mass-misinformation events” occurring on its platform. “I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” Mitchell said in a statement on her official website. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.” James Blunt, famed for his dry sense of humour towards his own music, waded into the debate by making a joke at his own expense. “If @spotify doesn’t immediately remove @joerogan, I will release new music onto the platform. #youwerebeautiful,” he tweeted.
The open letter made reference to a specific episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, released on December 31 2021 in which “baseless conspiracy theories” were promoted. “By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the letter said. “This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform. “We, the undersigned doctors, nurses, scientists, and educators thus call on Spotify to immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.” Young praised Spotify’s rival Amazon Music and offered his fans four months free on the streaming platform.
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The musician said Amazon was “leading the pack” in high quality audio production and encouraged fans to use the service to access his entire catalogue. The streaming giant said it “regretted” Young’s decision and hoped to welcome him back soon. But a Twitter post from the Neil Young Archives on Friday said: “All folks looking for my music can easily head to AMAZON MUSIC … all new listeners will get four months free. It added: “Amazon has been leading the pack in bringing Hi-Res audio to the masses, and it’s a great place to enjoy my entire catalogue in the highest quality available. “Love earth, be well. Neil.” Following Young’s reported concerns Spotify said it aimed to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to Covid misinformation since the start of the pandemic.