Neil Young has told Spotify workers that the company’s CEO — not Joe Rogan — is the real problem, and is urging them to “get out of that place before it eats up your soul” (via Variety). This comes after Young pulled his music from Spotify, claiming the company was “spreading fake information about vaccines” through Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Young’s recent fight against Spotify initially targeted Rogan’s podcast, but now he seems to be blaming Spotify’s leadership instead. In an open letter posted to his website on Monday, Young says that CEO Daniel Ek is all about “numbers – not art, not creativity.”
Young ended Monday’s letter by urging Spotify employees to “be free and take the good path.” (I’d argue it’s difficult to feel free when you’ve no longer got a job, but perhaps he’s expecting they’ll find a different one first.) This is at least the third time Young has slammed Spotify in recent weeks: after pulling his music, he went on to rail against its sound quality, calling it “shitty degraded and neutered.”
Joni Mitchell also pulled her music from Spotify, citing Rogan and COVID misinformation, as did India Arie who said it was also because of “his language around race.” A video of Rogan said the n-word on his podcast went viral, which later led to Rogan apologizing. He also pulled 70 episodes of his podcast from the service.
Ek, and Spotify as a company, seem to be giving mixed messages about how it wants to run its platform as the situation unfolds. The one thing that’s clear is that the company’s podcasting ambitions are heavily dependent on The Joe Rogan Experience (which made backing Rogan, instead of Neil Young, a relatively easy decision). But the company is also, obviously, highly dependent on its employees. While it’s hard to say how much sway Young has with them, the Rogan situation has evidently caused a good deal of tension within Spotify, and that’s something Ek will likely have to navigate as it continues to evolve.