Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?

Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?

The streamer has lost an estimated $2 billion following departures from stars ranging from Neil Young to Joni Mitchell. We've got a running list.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Getty Images

This week, Spotify finally announced wildly inadequate measures it will take to supposedly address the rampant covid misinformation being shared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. But the measures come as numerous artists and creators—the most visible of which so far include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell (all hail the Queen), and now Roxane Gay—have announced they’ll be leaving the streamer.

Apparently, just slapping a little disclaimer on a podcast that routinely spews life-endangering myths on vaccines and the pandemic isn’t going to cut it for artists who don’t want to support “deadly misinformation about COVID,” as Young put it in his open letter to his manager, Frank Gironda, and Tom Corson, the co-chairman and chief operating officer of Warner Records. Young also expressed hope that other artists and record companies would join him in leaving Spotify, which is happening as we speak.

Backlash against Spotify over its enabling of Rogan, who signed a $100 million exclusive deal with the streamer in 2020, has also drawn increased scrutiny of the company’s other problematic aspects, like, say, paying most of its artists just $0.003 to $0.005 per stream. As more and more and increasingly visible artists announce their departures, and during a week that’s already seen the company lose $2 billion as its stock has plummeted, pressure is rising for Spotify to take more drastic action on Rogan’s misinformation.

Here are the artists that have opted out, so far:

Advertisement

2 / 9

Neil Young

Neil Young

Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Getty Images

Shortly after nearly 300 doctors and medical professionals signed onto a letter calling for Spotify to take action on covid misinformation, Neil Young became the first artist to raise his voice and give the streamer an ultimatum on Jan. 26, directly citing the doctors’ open letter. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform … They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young told his manager.

Young acknowledged that exiting Spotify means “losing 60% of my world wide streaming income,” but explained that it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make in order to not implicitly support the streamer’s misinformation by keeping his music on it.

Young has since offered his endorsement to Amazon Music, directing fans who are looking for his music to find it there.

Advertisement

3 / 9

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Getty Images

On Jan. 28, Mitchell announced that she, too, would join Young in his protest of Spotify. “I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” she said in a statement. “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.” Fans have noted that both Mitchell and Young contracted polio as children, before the development of a vaccine for the disease, and are personally aware of the harms inflicted by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.

Advertisement

4 / 9

Nils Lofgren

Nils Lofgren

Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band guitarist joined the #DeleteSpotify movement on Jan. 29, citing his 53-year friendship with Young. “We encourage all musicians, artists and music lovers everywhere, to stand with us all, and cut ties with Spotify,” Lofgren wrote. The passionate call to action continued:

“Pick up your sword and start swinging! Neil always has. Stand with him, us (Joni Mitchell!), and others. It’s a powerful action YOU can all take NOW, to honor truth, humanity and the heroes risking their lives every day to save ours.”

Advertisement

5 / 9

Brené Brown

Brené Brown

Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Getty Images

Researcher and best-selling author Brené Brown tweeted on Jan. 29 that she would “not be releasing any podcasts until further notice.”

“To our #UnlockingUs and #DaretoLead communities, I’m sorry and I’ll let you know if and when that changes. Stay awkward, brave, and kind,” she wrote.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Brown has a multiyear exclusive deal with Spotify to host two of her podcasts. While she didn’t directly name covid misinformation or Joe Rogan in her tweet, the announcement came just days after Neil Young pulled his music.

Advertisement

6 / 9

India.Arie

India.Arie

Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Getty Images

Four-time Grammy winning singer and songwriter India.Arie shared on Jan. 31 that she, too, would join Young and Mitchell in pulling her music from Spotify.

“I believe in freedom of speech,” the “Steady Love” singer wrote in an Instagram post. “However, I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons OTHER than his Covid interviews.” She also criticized the podcaster’s “language around race,” as yet another factor in her decision.”

India.Arie also took the opportunity to criticize Spotify for its exploitative pay model: “Paying musicians a fraction of a penny? And HIM $100M? This shows the type of company they are and the company that they keep. I’m tired.”

Advertisement

7 / 9

Crosby, Nash and Stills

Crosby, Nash and Stills

Image for article titled Which Artists Have Left Spotify Over Covid Misinformation?
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

In solidarity with their former band-mate, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills announced on Feb. 2 that they would join Young in asking Spotify to remove their music.

“We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify’s Joe Rogan podcast,” they wrote in a Wednesday statement, naming Rogan directly. The statement continues:

“While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences. Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don’t want our music—or the music we made together—to be on the same platform.”

Nash also asked for the streamer to remove his solo music, as well.

Advertisement

8 / 9

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay

The iconic Bad Feminist author stated in a Feb. 3 New York Times op ed that she, too, will be leaving Spotify, which hosts her podcast “The Roxane Gay Agenda.” In the op ed, Gay recalls pulling her forthcoming book from Simon & Schuster in 2017, over the publisher’s short-lived book deal with white supremacist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

“Too many people believe that the right to free speech means the right to say whatever they want, wherever, whenever, on whatever platform they choose, without consequence,” Gay wrote. “They want free speech to exist in a vacuum, free from context, free from criticism.” She also criticized Rogan’s claim that he’s “curious, merely interested in asking questions,” writing, “It’s a convenient way of shirking accountability for misleading people about their life-or-death health decisions.”

She concluded:

“Spotify does not exist in a vacuum, and the decisions it makes about what content it hosts have consequences. To say that maybe Mr. Rogan should not be given unfettered access to Spotify’s more than 400 million users is not censorship, as some have suggested. It is curation.”

Advertisement

9 / 9