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Spotify already has an answer to Neil Young's ultimatum following outrage over allegations Joe Rogan is spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Spotify is in the midst of removing Young's music from the streaming service worldwide. His (very large) catalog was still available as of this writing, but we'd suggest listening to Harvest one more time just in case.
Young has reportedly been in talks with Spotify and his label Warner Records since posting an open letter threatening to pull his albums. The artist made the formal request on Wednesday (January 26th), and the music is apparently poised to disappear within "several hours."
In a statement to Engadget, Spotify said it "regret[ted]" Young's decision and hoped to have him back "soon." It also defended its anti-misinformation practices, claiming it accepted a "great responsibility" in juggling both listener safety and creator freedom. The company added it had pulled over 20,000 podcast COVID-related episodes since the pandemic began. It didn't say why it was still hosting Joe Rogan Experience episodes that contained misinformation, though, including unsupported claims from Dr. Robert Malone that "psychosis" led people to believe vaccines were effective.
Spotify also didn't offer reasons for its decision. However, the company is believed to have paid over $100 million to land a multi-year distribution deal with Rogan. While the exact terms of the agreement aren't clear, Spotify might suffer financial and legal consequences if it pulls Rogan's episodes. CEO Daniel Ek has also argued that his firm doesn't have editorial responsibility despite its recent practices.
You can read Spotify's full statement below:
We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.