Legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young has turned to criticizing Spotify’s sound quality after the streaming service chose to remove his songs rather than meet his demand to cancel podcaster Joe Rogan for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about Covid-19 vaccines.
“I have never been in favor of censorship,” the Canadian-born rocker said on Friday on his website. “Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”
Young, 76, went on to say, “I sound better everywhere else.” He accused Spotify of cutting digital music files down to 5% of their original content, resulting in a “shi**y, degraded and neutered sound.” He urged fans to switch to one of several competing streaming services that he claimed have higher quality.
If you support Spotify, you are destroying an art form. Business over art. Spotify plays the artist’s music at 5% of its quality and charges you like it was the real thing.
However, Young himself chose to quit Spotify only after accusing the platform of hosting harmful speech. He said in an open letter on Monday that he had asked his agents to notify Spotify that he was “actively canceling” his songs from the service. “They can have Rogan or Young – not both,” he said.
Spotify responded on Wednesday, saying it was removing Young’s music. The company said that since the pandemic began, it has pulled 20,000 podcast episodes under its policy against Covid-19 misinformation. A spokesman added that Spotify must balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators.”
Young’s resume includes such major hits as 'Heart of Gold' and 'Rockin’ in the Free World'. He previously removed his songs from streaming services in 2015, citing poor sound quality, and pitched his own music player, Pono. He shut down that venture in 2017, instead selling music on his website, and returned his songs to Spotify and other streaming services.
Rogan’s podcasts reportedly attract about 11 million listeners, dwarfing the audiences of mainstream news outlets.