Neil Young Leaves Spotify

Who has got more to lose?

For a minute there, I thought Spotify wasn’t going to respond to Neil. The news cycle is so fast that if you let it go it oftentimes goes forever, when you respond you’re adding gasoline to the fire. Furthermore, Mr. Young removed the post from his website stating his intention. A betting man would say it was a blip on the radar screen, that by removing the post Neil had plausible deniability. But it wouldn’t do much for his credibility, just like Adele canceling her Vegas shows when only one person had Covid and she hadn’t even gone to see the sets constructed.

Lying, it’s the American way.

Also, a few years back, Mr. Young canceled a Forum show in solidarity with the employees, but sales for that show were anemic, was it a convenient excuse?

That’s the music business. Known neither for its honesty or transparency. Now more than ever. We’ve got a zillion outlets which disseminate the news, then again, is anybody interested?

It seems people are interested now that Neil’s music is going, going, gone from Spotify. After all, Spotify, rightly or wrongly, has an image problem to begin with.

And financial issues too. Music doesn’t scale. So by going into podcasting, other content distribution, Spotify gets a chance to rejigger its financials, hopefully positively. And if you’re gonna go, go big, which is why they made a deal with Joe Rogan to begin with. He’s got the number one podcast, get him exclusively, it’ll jump-start your platform.

No one thought beyond that. Believe me, nearly every decision today is data driven, it’s not like Spotify assigned an employee to listen to every Rogan podcast and get back to them with a report. And Spotify had made it clear it didn’t represent the views of the artists on its site, so why would podcasts be any different?

Well, first and foremost because Rogan’s podcast was exclusive. With a big upfront payment. And Spotify doesn’t do this for any of its musical acts. Music distribution is essentially equal on all platforms, that battle was settled half a decade ago, that there would be no exclusives. Those would be to the detriment of the label, the other platforms might not play nice when exclusivity ended and customers on other platforms would be pissed and the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.

Then again, Spotify did not launch its service aligned with one big act, it’s not like Zeppelin or the Beatles or a modern act went on a roadshow, was featured in all the ads, no, Spotify was a distribution platform, ultimately agnostic.

But not in podcasts.

So no one expected Neil Young to go through with this. At best there would be endless meetings that would come to a conclusion after Covid was gone. The issue would be put on the back burner.

But Neil doubled-down.

Doesn’t hurt Neil, he makes more money from one show than he does in a year of Spotify streams. And his fans are diehards, not casual, they approve of everything he does, and it’s not like Spotify is the only place you can hear his music.


I’m already getting e-mail from people thinking about switching services. They’re pissed that Spotify still does not have HD/lossless, and they support the little guy. This was the essence of the power of the musician when Neil Young broke through. It was us versus them. We stood up for what was right and they squirmed. They were the establishment, we were the future. And rock stars made so much money they could afford to make a stand, they made more than the corporate CEOs. But that’s no longer true. Business is in charge once again. And the mores have changed, now the goal is to become a business! “Shark Tank,” apps, people are more desirous of starting a business than a band, both have long odds but you’ve got more control in business.

Spotify is a business. Daniel Ek did a phenomenal job creating it. He delivered what the public and music industry wanted before they knew they wanted it. If you’d told Daniel Ek to create a number one act in the same amount of time, there’s a very good chance he’d have come up empty. You see business has rules, facts. Art is inherently creative and vague, with no rules and no agreement on what is worthwhile and what will hit, it’s unpredictable. Which is why it’s such a hard road.

So now it’s the little guy versus the big guy. Rogan isn’t even a factor, what he is saying, the issue boils down to is Spotify artist-friendly or money-friendly? What are the company’s priorities?

And no other classic rock act has followed in Neil Young’s footsteps. But if you look at the numbers, like Neil, what have they got to lose? They make much more money on the road. And if you pull your tunes they’re screwed. Hell, Spotify didn’t launch for years in America because it couldn’t get every major music group to agree to license their music.

And you know that Spotify would gladly take you back if you left and wanted to return. It’s not like they’re banning Neil Young forever.

So what’s the advantage of having Joe Rogan? They already built their podcast business, Wall Street is impressed. Rogan can go at very little cost. They might have to pay the entire $100 million to get rid of him, but  maybe this was a lousy business model, ownership of content.

That’s right, Spotify doesn’t own all that music, it just licenses it,.

Since Apple was asleep at the wheel, Spotify is now the leading, bleeding edge of podcasting, Rogan’s work is essentially done. But Rogan isn’t the only podcast they own…

But movie studios and record labels have been distributing content and taking no responsibility for years. Why should it be different for Spotify?

Covid. Right versus left. Life or death.

The coming civil war won’t only be fought hand to hand in combat on the street, music is always the bleeding edge, and now Spotify is at the bleeding edge of the civil war. It was trying to be neutral, but now Neil Young is asking which side the company is on. Like that old aphorism, you’re either with me or against me, and it turns out Spotify is not only against Neil Young, but the distribution of accurate information. I mean Facebook is legendary as a haven of misinformation. But there’s not a Joe Rogan of Facebook or Instagram, not a single individual who can be identified and expunged. Then again, the social networks have canceled the posting privileges of individuals, most notably Trump. Why should Spotify get a pass here?

And misinformation/disinformation is a big thing here. Did you read that Russia is already fighting Ukraine with misinformation? Absolutely. Read this and weep:

“Russia Steps Up Propaganda War Amid Tensions With Ukraine

The disinformation campaign includes claims that NATO and Ukrainian forces are preparing to attack Russian speakers in Ukraine.”:

Misinformation/disinformation is the scourge of society, it’s bringing down democracy around the world. And vaccines have now become a litmus test, which side are you on?

No one’s got a problem with Joe Rogan bringing the issues to the fore. Then again, he’s got a long history of hosting quacks, and they should not be given bandwidth. I mean do you want Alex Jones giving editorials on the TV news every night? Of course not.

But that’s not what Joe Rogan is doing. He’s taking sides with the quacks. And these quacks have led to the breakdown of society. Measles was gone, now it’s back because of anti-vaxxers. But now it’s worse.

Joe Rogan could try and be responsible, state the truth whenever one of these bozos speaks falsehoods. But that’s not what he does, like Spotify he’s hands off, saying it’s not his responsibility, when in truth he agrees with them when it comes to the vaccine. Just like Spotify is endorsing anti-vaxxers by standing up for Joe instead of Neil. You’ve got to take responsibility.

We might as well call him Dr. Rogan. Aaron Rodgers called Joe when he got Covid. And Joe himself got Covid. And the truth is old people are more susceptible to Covid than youngsters, but people across the age spectrum, even completely healthy, die from Covid.

And vaccines have been cast as a personal choice. Do you get to go a hundred miles an hour on the freeway just because you’ve got a history of safe driving and haven’t killed anyone yet? And as good a driver as you might be, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t be a doofus, cut in front of you and then cause an accident. You see we live in a society, all together, and unless we look out for each other, we’re screwed.

And we’re screwed now. Everybody could be vaxxed, Covid would be less of an issue, but no, you’re stepping on my FREEDOM!

How was it cast this way?

Meanwhile, the guy who came up with these monikers, like the “Death Tax,” Frank Luntz, is rabidly pro-vaccine, he’s been on a mission. But it’s got no traction, because he, unlike Neil Young, does not have a voice that can reach everybody.

This is where we are in 2022. Do we let the lunatics take over the asylum? Just because a bunch of uninformed people say something is true does that make it so?

This is going to go further. Spotify is just the first, but corporations are going to have to declare themselves, which side are they on?

The leading edge here is Patagonia, which refuses to make vests for corporate retreats anymore, they don’t like their brand aligned with the viewpoints and actions of those companies. Patagonia is leaving money on the table, but the end result has been a further burnishing of the brand, and even more revenue!

That’s what taking a stand does. And you want to get out in front of the story before you get bitten in the ass. Believe me, Spotify wouldn’t make that deal with Joe Rogan today, not knowing what they know now.

But they did, and here we are.

Financially, short term, letting Neil Young go is a no-brainer. But long term? Spotify already gets heat from know-nothings about payments for streaming. It’s akin to Ticketmaster, the ticketing giant is a front for the acts and the labels and Spotify is a front for the labels, and the purveyors don’t want the truth known. And no matter how many times I write the truth about Ticketmaster or streaming payouts people don’t believe it. The artist can never be wrong, the artist is inviolate, the corporation must be at fault!

This is bigger than Joe Rogan. Spotify needs a policy, like Twitter. What is allowed and what is not. And it’s got to be damn clear.

And Spotify needs to do what is right as opposed to putting dollars first. Because if you do what is right at the beginning, you don’t have to lie and play catch-up when the truth finally outs, which it always does. You want to be ahead of the audience, which is how Spotify made it to begin with, people didn’t know they wanted streaming, and now not only is it the most prominent method of music distribution, more revenue is coming in!

People e-mail and tweet me misinformation all day long. Are we just gonna let this stand, let these people be misinformed and delusional? And where are they getting this info, FROM PEOPLE LIKE JOE ROGAN! Joe is so successful that he’s got a high profile, but now he’s got a target on his back, with the rewards also come the penalties.

But I don’t expect further action.

Unless a few more acts pull their music from Spotify, the odds of which are low.

One person can make a difference. You think it’s about a team, but usually it’s just one person, just one leader. So far it’s Neil Young. Is he imperfect? Of course! But so is everybody else. He’s all-in, he’s absorbing the loss, he’s a beacon for truth in a world where everybody puts money first.

And I ask you, which side do you want to be on? One in which money trumps everything? That’s how we got here, with mindless nitwits making bank online, with me-too “artists.” You either take a stand for truth, justice and the American Way or…

You’re the enemy.

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