How Neil Young Was Able to Remove His Music from Spotify

by Victoria Santiago
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Most of us have heard by now that Neil Young has removed his music from the popular streaming service Spotify. Is it really that easy?

In short, no. Most musical artists don’t actually own the rights to their music, Neil Young included. So, while the artist demanded Spotify to remove his music, that doesn’t automatically mean that they could, or did. They had to go through the people that actually own Young’s music catalog. In this case, the owners are Warner Bros and Reprise Records. Warner Bros is in charge of all things music. This includes which companies and people they decide to strike deals with. Thus, Warner Bros are the only authority that could have Neil Young’s music removed. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the artist doesn’t have any say. Typically, lots of collaboration and communication happen before a deal is struck (or unstruck, in this case).

“Before I told my friends at Warner Bros about my desire to leave the Spotify platform, I was reminded by my own legal forces that contractually I did not have the control of my music to do that,” Young said online. “I want to thank my truly great and supportive record company Warner Brothers – Reprise Records, for standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify. Thank You!”

Young is far from the first artist to try to negotiate their music contracts. However, it worked out surprisingly well for him. By that, he ultimately got what he wanted. Sometimes, things like this don’t always pan out for artists. For example, Prince battled with his record label for decades over ownership rights.

Neil Young Removed His Music After Spotify Refused to Remove Joe Rogan’s Podcast

Earlier this month, Neil Young threatened to have his music pulled off of the streaming service if they didn’t stop hosting Joe Rogan’s podcast. Obviously, Spotify didn’t do that, so here we are. Young had originally accused Rogan’s podcast (and by association, Spotify) of spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Even though the streaming service didn’t take down his podcast, they’ve now included content advisory warnings on podcast content about COVID-19.

Back in 2020, Spotify and Joe Rogan struck a $100 million deal. By doing so, they gained exclusive rights to his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. It was the biggest deal in podcast history. Since then, the show has proven to be a huge source of revenue for the streaming site. According to Fortune, The Joe Rogan Experience has at least 11 million followers. Even though the show is very important to Spotify, they haven’t been shy about removing it in the past. Of course, they obviously haven’t removed the entire show, but they have gotten rid of some episodes before.

Outsider.com