Neil Young is calling out Spotify for being a tech company instead of a music service. In an open letter titled “SPOTIFY: More Songs and Less Sound” posted Friday (Jan. 28) on his website Neil Young Archives, he writes that anyone supporting Spotify has a hand in “destroying an art form.”
Young begins the open letter with a simple statement: “When I left Spotify, I felt better.” The iconic musician goes on to state that he believes Spotify offers a lesser quality product than other streamers such as Apple Music, Amazon and Qobuz, and encourages music fans “to switch to one of the alternatives” over Spotify.
Young claims in his letter that Spotify cuts the quality of its music to 5% of its original content and adds, “It’s easy to do that with digital, thus allowing more songs and less music to stream faster. That’s because 95% is missing. That’s what Spotify the tech company does. Spotify then sells you the downgraded music.”
He continues by writing that Spotify chooses “business over art,” and Young claims the streamer “is ripping you off and has been since day 1.”
Billboard has reached out to Spotify for comment.
His note follows an open letter shared Jan. 24 — which was later deleted — requesting that his catalog be pulled from Spotify, citing the spread of vaccine misinformation on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast as the reason. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young wrote in that letter, which was addressed to his manager as well as the co-chairman and COO of Warner Records, which releases Young’s music through its Reprise Records imprint.
Spotify responded to Young on Jan. 26 by agreeing to take his music down. In a statement provided to Billboard, a spokesperson for the streamer said, “We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”
Earlier in January, a group of 270 doctors, scientists, professors and other medical professionals also expressed concern over Rogan’s platforming of misinformation around COVID-19. In an open letter to Spotify, the signees asked the streaming service to implement a misinformation policy as a means of combating claims made by Rogan and his guests. Among other comments, they noted that Rogan has discouraged young people from receiving the vaccine, incorrectly claimed that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy,” and promoted the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19, contrary to FDA warnings against using the drug to treat the virus.
Young concludes his Jan. 28 letter by declaring that he believes in free speech and is not in favor of censorship. “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,” he writes. “I am happy to and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”
In closing, the two-time Grammy winner writes, “As an unexpected bonus, I sound better everywhere else.”