After Song Pulling, Neil Young Tells Spotify Employees to Quit Their Jobs

Neil Young has told Spotify employees that the company’s CEO — not Joe Rogan — is the real problem, urging them to “leave that place before it eats your soul” (via Variety† This comes after Young pulled his music from Spotify, claiming that the company was “spreading false information about vaccines” via Joe Rogan’s podcast.

Young’s recent fight against Spotify initially focused on Rogan’s podcast, but now he seems to be blaming Spotify’s leadership instead. In an open letter posted to his website Monday, Young says CEO Daniel Ek is all about “numbers — no art, no creativity.”

Young closed Monday’s letter with an urgent appeal to Spotify employees to “be free and get on the right track”. (I’d say it’s hard to feel free when you’re out of a job, but maybe he expects them to find another one first.) In any case, this is the third time Young has criticized Spotify in recent weeks: after as he tugged at his music, he ranted at the sound quality, calling it “shit relegated and neutered.”

Joni Mitchell also pulled her music from Spotify, citing misinformation from Rogan and COVID, 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 withdrew 70 episodes of his podcast from the service.

Ek and Spotify as a company seem to be giving mixed messages about how it plans to run its platform as the situation unfolds. The only thing that is clear is that the company’s podcasting ambitions rely heavily on The Joe Rogan Experience (making it a relatively easy decision to back Rogan over Neil Young). But of course the company is also highly dependent on its employees. While it’s hard to say how much of an influence Young has with them, the Rogan situation has clearly created a lot of tension within Spotify, and that’s something Ek will likely have to navigate through as it continues to evolve.

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