January 27, 2022
In pulling his music from Spotify in protest at Joe Rogan’s Covid misinformation, the Singer continues a life of political action – but unlike others, he doesn’t need to please the streaming giant
Neil Young’s battle with Spotify is principled – and comfortable
If you had been forced to predict which blue-chip American rock legend was going to suddenly pull their music off Spotify in protest at the streaming site hosting a far-right-friendly podcast that spreads medical misinformation, Neil Young would have been a very safe bet.
He is famously among the most ornery, uncompromising and capricious of said blue-chip legends. The years that produced his most famous work also played host to Young wilfully sabotaging his own commercial prospects in order to follow his muse (or, as he memorably put it, “heading for the ditch”); suddenly abandoning tours midway by directing his tour bus to pull off the motorway en route to the next show; whimsically declining to release a succession of completed albums; and incurring the wrath of his partners in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) by removing their contributions from the master tapes of his songs before releasing them. He spent a substantial chunk of the 1980s making wildly uncommercial albums, apparently with the specific intention of annoying his record label, which ended up suing him for being unpredictable – it lost, perhaps because, as his labelmate Elton John put it, its lawsuit “felt a bit like suing Neil Young for being Neil Young”.
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