The World Health Organization (WHO) has sided with veteran rocker Neil Young in his stand-off with podcaster Joe Rogan and streaming giant Spotify over what Young says is misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
Young’s music has been removed from Spotify’s streaming service after the singer-songwriter objected to his songs playing on the same platform that offers Rogan’s podcast.
This week, Young, 76, released a letter addressed to his manager and record label, Warner Music Group, demanding that Spotify no longer carry his music because, he said, Rogan had spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young wrote.
The only Young songs now available on Spotify appear on compilation albums, while full albums of his former bands — including Crazy Horse; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and Buffalo Springfield — remain available to stream.
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WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today backed the musician, stressing “we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic”.
“@NeilYoungNYA, thanks for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies around #COVID19 vaccination,” Mr Ghebreyesus tweeted.
“Public and private sector, in particular #socialmedia platforms, media, individuals — we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic.”
On Wednesday, Young thanked his record label for “standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify”, and encouraged other musicians to do the same.
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“Spotify has become the home of life-threatening COVID misinformation,” he said on his website.
In response, Spotify said it worked to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19, in accordance with its “detailed content policies”.
“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” Spotify said in a statement.
The Joe Rogan Experience is the top-rated podcast on Spotify, which holds exclusive rights to the program.
Rogan, 54, has stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates and vaccines to control the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.