Neil Young’s music to return to Spotify

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After an absence of more than two years, Neil Young’s music is returning to Spotify.

Young, a six-decade veteran of the rock music scene known for his stints with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as well as solo hits like Long May You Run and Harvest Moon, announced on his website on Tuesday (March 12) that his music would be returning to Spotify.

Young announced in January 2022 that he was pulling his music from the streaming platform over its hosting of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

However, now that the podcast is no longer exclusive to Spotify, and is available on numerous streaming platforms, Young indicated his Spotify-specific boycott no longer makes sense.

“My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I had opposed at Spotify,” Young wrote.

“I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all, so I have returned to Spotify, in sincere hopes that Spotify sound quality will improve and people will be able to hear and feel all the music as we made it.”

Earlier this year, Spotify renewed its deal with Joe Rogan, this time for a reported USD $250 million for a multi-year term. However, unlike the original ($100 million-plus) deal that Spotify signed with Rogan in 2020, the new one didn’t grant Spotify exclusivity, meaning Rogan’s podcast can now appear in full on YouTube (where it first gained popularity) and on other platforms.

On the company’s earnings call in February, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said non-exclusive deals with podcasters better align with podcasters, who “obviously [want] to be on many different platforms and [want] to have as big of an audience as possible.”

Ek said that while the exclusive deals Spotify signed with podcasters were “net positive,” they were “not driving as much [revenue] as the opportunity that we see on the ad side.”

“My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I had opposed at Spotify.”

Neil Young

In his website post Tuesday, Young called Spotify the “#1 streamer of low res music in the world,” and urged it to “start with a limited hi-res tier and build from there!”

Unlike competitors like Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, TIDAL and others, Spotify has yet to roll out hi-res lossless audio. It’s also behind competitors in rolling out spatial audio.

However, Young’s decision to leave Spotify two years ago appeared to have less to do with its sound quality and more to do with the fact that Rogan’s podcast had come under fire for an interview with Dr. Robert Malone, one of the pioneers of mRNA vaccine technology, which was used to develop some of the Covid-19 vaccines. During the pandemic, Malone became an opponent of the mRNA vaccines and was widely referred to as an anti-vaxxer.

Malone’s appearance on Rogan prompted hundreds of medical professionals to sign a letter accusing the podcast of promoting “baseless conspiracy theories” and asserted that the show had “a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation.”

“Most of the listeners hearing the unfactual, misleading and false Covid information on Spotify are 24 years old, impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth,” Young wrote on his website at the time.

“These young people believe Spotify would never present grossly unfactual information. They unfortunately are wrong. I knew I had to try to point that out.”

Young thanked his record company, Warner Records/Reprise Records, for standing by his decision to pull his music from Spotify, saying that the streaming service “represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world” – an assertion that MBW questioned at the time, given Spotify’s 31% market share the prior year.

Young’s stance against Spotify appeared to inspire other artists, notably Joni Mitchell (another music legend who, like Young, hails from Canada).

Amid the controversy, Rogan apologized to Spotify, saying he is “very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much heat from it.” He apologized to Young and Mitchell as well.

Spotify’s Ek apologized to his staff over the Joe Rogan podcast as well, when a compilation video of Rogan repeatedly using the n-word began circulating shortly after the vaccine episode controversy. However, Ek made it clear at the time that Spotify would not drop Rogan’s podcast.Music Business Worldwide

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