Joni Mitchell said on Friday that she would be removing her music from Spotify, join Neil Young in his protest against the streaming service for its role in providing a platform for misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine.
Mitchell, an esteemed singer-songwriter of songs like ‘Big Yellow Taxi,’ and whose landmark album ‘Blue’ just celebrated its 50th anniversary, posted a brief statement on her website on Friday saying she would be retiring her music. of the streaming service. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people’s lives,” she wrote. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
His statement is fueling a small but growing revolt against Spotify, with few major artists speaking out but fans commenting widely on social media. The debate also highlighted questions about the power artists have to control the distribution of their work, and the ever thorny issue of freedom of expression online.
Spotify pulled Young’s music on Wednesday, two days after it published an open letter calling for it to be removed in protest of Spotify’s most popular podcast, ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’, which has come under fire for airing false information about coronavirus and vaccines.
He did so after a group of hundreds of scientists, professors and public health experts asked Spotify to remove an episode of Rogan’s Dec. 31 show featuring Dr. Robert Malone, a infectious disease expert. The scientists wrote in a public letter that the program promoted “several lies about Covid-19 vaccines”.
Mitchell is the first major artist to follow Young, after days of speculation and rumors on social media.
Young and Mitchell have a long history together. Both are Canadians who helped lead the singer-songwriter revolution in Southern California in the late 1960s and 1970s.
On Spotify, Mitchell is listed as having 3.7 million monthly listeners, with two of his songs – “Big Yellow Taxi” and “A Case of You” – getting over 100 million streams.
While few other major artists have spoken out so far, Young’s stance has resonated widely with fans. Twitter was littered with announcements from listeners saying they were canceling their subscriptions, and screenshot Spotify app showed a message from its customer support team saying it was “getting a lot of contacts, so it might be slow to respond.” Spotify did not specify how many customers canceled their subscriptions.
The tech rivals have also pounced on the controversy, with SiriusXM restarting a Neil Young channel and Apple Music being called “Neil Young’s house.”
In a statement on his website Friday, Young reiterated his objections to Rogan’s podcast and brushed off Spotify’s sound quality. He also said he supports freedom of speech.
“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 not support my music on a platform that disseminates harmful information.”