In an open letter to his manager and record label that was posted to his website and later taken down, Young wrote: “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Young specified that his decision was motivated by The Joe Rogan Experience, which is currently Spotify’s most popular podcast and one of the biggest in the world. Rogan signed a US$100m deal in 2020 giving Spotify exclusive rights to the show.
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy,” he wrote, adding: “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.”
The letter was addressed to his manager Frank Gironda and Tom Corson, the co-chairman and chief operating officer of Warner Records, which releases Young’s music through its Reprise Records imprint.
Gironda confirmed the letter was authentic to The Daily Beast. “It’s something that’s really important to Neil. He’s very upset … we’re trying to figure this out right now.”
Last month, 270 doctors, scientists and healthcare professionals signed an open letter requesting that Spotify implement a policy for dealing with misinformation because of Rogan’s “concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The letter cited an episode in which Rogan interviewed Robert Malone, a virologist who was involved in the mRNA vaccine technology that led to some of the leading Covid-19 vaccines but has since been criticised for spreading vaccine misinformation. Both men were criticised for promoting several baseless conspiracy theories, including the false claim that hospitals are financially incentivised to falsely diagnose deaths as having been caused by Covid-19, and Malone’s assertion that world leaders had hypnotised the public into supporting vaccines.
The Guardian has approached Spotify for comment.