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Joe Rogan responds to Neil Young controversy: “I don’t always get it right”

Young and Joni Mitchell have pulled their catalogues from Spotify in protest at the podcaster's COVID-19 misinformation

By Joe Goggins

Neil Young and Joe Rogan pictured in a composite image
“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both" (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Raph_PH; YouTube/PowerfulJRE)

Joe Rogan has finally publicly addressed the recent spate of artists removing their music from Spotify in protest at his apparent dissemination of COVID-19 misinformation on his podcast.

Last week, Neil Young announced his intention to pull his music from the streaming platform, on which Rogan’s ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ is the most-listened to podcast, saying “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Young’s appeal to his management to have his catalogue taken down from Spotify, shared on social media but since deleted, followed another open letter earlier this month signed by over 270 members of the global science and medical community, who said that Rogan’s platforming of anti-vax views made him “not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous”.

Since then, Young’s compatriot Joni Mitchell has followed his example, writing on Friday (January 28): “I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

Young’s Crazy Horse bandmate Nils Lofgren has also followed suit. According to a report yesterday (January 30) from Variety, more than $2 billion has been wiped off of Spotify’s market value since Young’s initial announcement last Monday (January 24). Now, Rogan – the mixed martial arts commentator turned podcast host – has responded to the controversy, in a lengthy video posted to his Instagram account, where he has more than 14 million followers.

Striking a conciliatory tone, Rogan said of Young and Mitchell’s stances: “I’m very sorry that they feel that way. I most certainly don’t want that. I’m a Neil Young fan, I’ve always have been a Neil Young fan.” He pledged to strive for balance in future discussion of the pandemic, promising “to do my best in the future to balance things out.” 

“I don’t always get it right,” said Rogan. “I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people perspectives so we can maybe find a better point of view.” Rogan first took his podcast to Spotify in 2020, signing an exclusivity deal understood to be worth around $100 million.

In their own response to the controversy, Spotify have announced plans to add content advisories to any podcast episode that discusses coronavirus, directing listeners to a dedicated “Covid-19 hub”. According to a statement, the hub will be “a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”

Chief executive Daniel Ek pledged increased transparency about its podcast policies moving forward. “Personally, there are plenty of views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly,” said Ek. “it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”