Spotify has been under fire from both the public and musicians due to its lax misinformation policy and its platforming of podcast host Joe Rogan. In the eyes of many, Rogan has used his podcast to push misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This has led to several musicians and podcasters pulling their content from the music streaming platform. But who can you no longer find on the platform?
Here is a complete list of people who have removed their content from the website as of right now.
Why Is Spotify Under Fire?
The backlash started on January 10th, 2022, when a collection of 270 doctors, physicians, and science educators published an open letter demanding that Spotify implement a misinformation policy to curb the flow of COVID-19 misinformation on the platform, with the authors focusing on several episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast.
On January 24th, Neil Young published an open letter demanding that Spotify remove his music from the service. He posted a second letter on January 26th. In this letter, Young reiterated his position. He also confirmed his music would be taken off Spotify.
This caused several other artists to demand that Spotify also take down their music. Spotify did publish a misinformation policy. However, in the eyes of many, this didn’t go far enough, leading to more controversy.
Who Has Threatened To Remove Their Content? (But Has Not Yet)
After Young’s music was removed, several artists mentioned following Young’s lead. Alongside this, several rumors spread online, naming other artists who might be joining the movement.
This includes Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The pair signed a deal with Spotify to produce their Archewell Audio podcast in 2020. However, so far, they have only released one episode. Many prominent internet rumors suggested the pair would break off the deal.
However, a representative for the Archewell organization released a statement that said:
“Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day. Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all-too-real consequences of Covid-19 misinformation on its platform. We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis. We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”
Reports suggesting Barry Manilow had joined the ruckus with the intent of having his body of work removed from the platform also started circulating last week, though the artist has since spoken out on Twitter to deny any involvement.
Which Musicians Have Left Spotify?
However, several big names did pull their music from the platform. Most notably, Neil Young, most known for his song “Rockin’ in the Free World,” and legendary album After the Gold Rush, made good on his letter and removed all of his songs from Spotify with the full support of his label.
Many of Young’s close friends and collaborators joined the musician, including legendary rockers David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash. While all three musicians have steller solo careers, they have all worked with Young as part of the supergroups: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Crosby & Nash.
After Young’s decision to remove his music, these group recordings were the only thing involving Young left on the platform. But this group decision means that no Neil Young performances will be on Spotify.
In a joint statement, the group said:
“While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences.”
Joni Mitchell, another music legend and close friend of Young, was the first to publicly support the star’s decision. On January 28th, she announced that she would be leaving the streaming platform. The singer released a statement on her website saying:
“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. 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.”
Nils Lofgren, most known as the lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band, announced that he was pulling 27 years’ worth of his music from the service and was reaching out to other labels he’s performed with to get his other recordings taken down. In a statement released on his website, Lofgren said:
“Neil and I go back 53 years. Amy and I are honored and blessed to call Neil and Daryl friends and knew standing with them was the right choice. We encourage all musicians, artists, and music lovers everywhere, to stand with us all, and cut ties with Spotify.
Music is our planet’s Sacred Weapon, uniting and healing billions of souls every day. 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.”
India Arie, the four-time Grammy Awards winner, most known for her 2003 album Voyage to India, announced that she would be removing her music from the platform on January 31st. In a statement posted on Instagram, Arie explains that she isn’t withdrawing her work just because of the misinformation, but also because of Rogan’s “language around race” and Spotify’s pay structure as a whole.
Rock band Failure also announced their decision to leave the platform in a Facebook post on February 1st. This post details the band’s decision, saying:
“But now, with Spotify’s recent policy shift that allows COVID vaccine misinformation to thrive on their platform, Failure have decided that enough is enough.
Beyond the moral issues raised by Spotify’s COVID decision, the issue of vaccine misinformation and how it directly affects the current situation in the live music space is simply untenable.”
Which Podcasters Have Left Spotify?
It isn’t just musicians who are removing their content from the service. Several podcast creators are also pulling their shows from Spotify.
This includes Roxane Gay, the writer of Bad Feminist. Gay said her podcast, The Roxane Gay Agenda, would no longer be on Spotify.
Also, Brené Brown posted a tweet explaining that there would be no new episodes of her Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead podcasts a few days after Young pulled his music from the platform. Brown, who recently signed a deal with Spotify, tweeted:
I will 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.
Wendy Zukerman and Blythe Terrell, the host, and editor of popular science podcast Science Vs announced they would be limiting the production of new podcast episodes as they are dissatisfied with Spotify’s misinformation policies. In a tweet, the pair published a letter they sent to Spotify’s CEO, which explains that the show will only make new episodes to counteract misinformation spread by Spotify.