Spotify Loses $4 Billion in Market Value After Neil Young Controversy

Neil Young Photo: Rich Fury/AP

Spotify lost $4 billion in market value this week after rock icon Neil Young called out the company for allowing comedian Joe Rogan to use his service to spread misinformation about the COVID vaccine on his popular podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience”.

By the end of the day Friday, Jan. 28, Spotify shares were down about 12% from where they closed last week, according to Nasdaq data, versus a broader index that was flat over the same period. The hashtags #DeleteSpotify and #CancelSpotify also gained ground in social networkswith many websites offering step-by-step instructions for users to remove the app from their devices.

Spotify knocked down almost everyone Young man’s music on Wednesday, January 26, two days after the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician reportedly issued an ultimatum to the streaming service through his management and record company: “You can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Joe Rogan responds to negative reaction from Neil Young and Spotify. This is what he said

Neil Young has pulled his music from Spotify due to concerns about COVID-19 misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Photo: Dreamstime/TNS

Controversy erupted after Rogan appeared Dr. Robert Malone on his podcast last month. Malone has been banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation, but has become a hero in the anti-vaccine community for falsely suggesting that millions of people had been hypnotized into believing that vaccines work to prevent serious illness.

“Spotify has recently become a very damaging force through its public misinformation and lies about COVID,” Young wrote in a letter posted on its website on Wednesday. “Most of the listeners who hear the false, misleading and fake COVID information on Spotify are 24 years old, impressionable and easy to switch to the wrong side of the truth.”

A group of doctors and scientists have circulated an online petition asking Spotify to adopt policies to prevent the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Spotify said in a statement last week that it had removed more than 20,000 COVID-19-related podcast episodes since the start of the pandemic. But so far the company has supported Rogan, who was He reportedly paid more than $100 million for the service in exchange for exclusive rights to his podcast.

Rogan draws 11 million viewers per episode, while Young draws 6 million viewers per month.

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Neil Young performs at BottleRock Festival in Napa Valley on Saturday May 25, 2019 in Napa, CA. Photo: Paul Kuroda/Special to The Chronicle

In a follow-up letter posted on his website Friday, Young clarified that the goal of his protest was not to censor the podcast host.

“I support freedom of expression. I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just like I can choose not to have my music support a platform that spreads harmful information,” Young said. “I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the frontline healthcare worker who puts their lives on the line every day to help others.”

He added that his music was still available to stream on Amazon, Apple Music and Qobuz, with better sound quality.

“As an unexpected bonus, I sound better everywhere else,” Young said.

Before moving into the Malibu hills home owned by his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, in 2014, Young he lived on a ranch in Woodside in the Santa Cruz Mountains for nearly four decades.

For more than 30 yearshe and his late wife Pegi hosted Bridge School’s all-star acoustic benefit concerts at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, with performances by stars like Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Brian Wilson, Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, Metallica, Elvis Costello and others.

The concerts benefited the school he co-founded to help children with severe physical and speech disabilities, including his son Ben, who is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy who cannot speak. Her son Zeke also has cerebral palsy.

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young man was diagnosed with polio in 1951, four years before a vaccine for the potentially deadly disease became available, and in his 2012 autobiography “Waging Heavy Peace,” he recounts his time at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Not only did he have to relearn how to walk, but the experience also left him with a lifelong limp and forced him to frequently wear a back brace while performing live.

The musician also suffered from type 1 diabetes and epilepsy, according to his memoir. His and Pegi’s daughter, Amber Jean, also developed epilepsy.

In 2006, Young suffered from a brain aneurysm, which requires emergency surgery.

“I don’t think it stops me from doing what I do,” the singer told The Chronicle after the episode.

  • Aidin Vaziri
    Aidin Vaziri is the pop music critic for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: Twitter: @MusicSF

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