This Friday, Joni Mitchell issued a statement on her website announcing her request to have all of her music removed from Spotify. Mitchell is joining classic rock singer Neil Young in standing up against the platform for streaming and promoting a podcast that spread false information regarding coronavirus.
Along with posting an open letter to Spotify from a group of hundreds of scientists, professors and public health experts which requests for the removal of the podcast, Joni included her own statement, saying, “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives.” She also expressed her support for Young and the group of experts in her post.“I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Her statements fuel the protest of several artists and fans regarding Spotify’s role in spreading misinformation on coronavirus. Last month, comedian Joe Rogan hosted an interview on his podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience,” with Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist who has been banned from Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Rogan’s show is hosted by Spotify, and his podcast is one of the service’s biggest contracts.
Since the episode aired, many scientists and musicians have criticized the platform’s irresponsibility. Singer Neil Young was first to take action, having posted a statement on his website last Friday announcing that he would be removing his music from Spotify. “I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship,” he said. “Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”
Neil Young’s argument has resonated very strongly with fans and users of Spotify. Many people have taken to social media to share their irritation with the situation. During the last few days, Twitter has been full of users announcing their withdrawal from the service. Although we have not yet heard a statement from Spotify about the mass cancelation of accounts, we can assume a significant loss for the company.
With 3.7 million monthly listeners, Joni Mitchell is the first major artist to join Young in removing her music from Spotify amidst the controversies.
Young and Mitchell have a long history together in the music industry. The two Canadian musicians were both a large part of the California singer-songwriter revolution in the late 1960s and 1970s. The artists have come together to call other musicians and fans to action on the issue.
Following Mitchell’s statements, Spotify said that they have policies in place to remove misleading content from the platform. However, the service has mentioned nothing about the Joe Rogan podcast, which has initiated the controversies.