Why is Neil Young returning his music to Spotify?

Why is Neil Young returning to Spotify?
Why is Neil Young returning to Spotify? Copyright Mark Davis/AP
By David Mouriquand
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"My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I opposed at Spotify."

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Neil Young has returned his music to Spotify, two years after he removed it over the streaming juggernaut's exclusive deal with controversial podcaster Joe Rogan, whom he accused of vaccine disinformation.

In January 2022, the celebrated American singer-songwriter, 78, announced that he would be removing his music from Spotify after episodes of Joe Rogan’s controversial podcast spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. At the time, Joe Rogan’s podcast was signed exclusively to Spotify.

Young published an open letter saying he was removing his music "because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines", which was "potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them".

The Joe Rogan Experience‘s exclusivity to Spotify has since ended. The host signed a new multi-year deal believed to be worth $250m (approx. €230 million), that allows the podcast to be distributed by other platforms including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and YouTube.

Now, in a message posted on his website, cheekily titled "My Return To Low Res Spotify" (a dig at the platform's use of low-resolution audio files), Young said: “My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I opposed at Spotify. I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did with Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all.”

He continued: “So I have returned to Spotify, in sincere hopes that Spotify sound quality will improve and people will be able to hear and feel all the music as we made it. Qobuz and Tidal, where my music is presented, are all High res as well.”

Apple, Amazon Music and Qobuz, amongst others, offer lossless audio, which is closer to CD quality. Spotify used compressed files - which sound awful. 

Young and Crazy Horse are setting off on a North American tour next month.

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