/Joni Mitchell joins Neil Young in the Spotify departure. Could more music giants follow suit? – USA TODAY

Joni Mitchell joins Neil Young in the Spotify departure. Could more music giants follow suit? – USA TODAY


Add Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren to the #ByeSpotify team.

Mitchell – who recently was feted at the Kennedy Center Honors – said on her website Friday that she stands with fellow Canadian-born artist Neil Young in wanting her music removed from streaming service Spotify.

Lofgren, who played on Young’s latest release “Barn” as a member of Crazy Horse and is also a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, posted a note Saturday on Neil Young Archives website announcing that “we’ve now gotten the last 27 years of my music off Spotify.”

“We are reaching out to the labels that own my earlier music to have it removed as well,” his message said. “We sincerely hope they honor our wishes, as Neil’s labels have done, his. We will do everything possible towards that end and keep you posted.”

Spotify on Friday took down Young’s music after the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee asked that his music be removed if the service would continue to have podcast host Joe Rogan on the platform.

Young criticized Spotify for having “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast on the service, saying in the letter that has since been removed online, “Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.”

Rogan, who tested positive for COVID-19 in September, has been critical of safety measures against the virus on his podcast and had downplayed the need for mass vaccines for large events like comedy shows. In 2020, Spotify acquired the host’s podcast library in a deal reportedly worth more than $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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From left: Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina, Nils Lofgren and Neil Young. The new album, "Barn," from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, is out Dec. 10. The musicians recorded it in a restored off-grid 19th century barn in the Rocky Mountains.

The musicians’ action comes after nearly 300 doctors, physicians and science educators earlier this month signed an open letter calling on Spotify to stop spreading Rogan’s commentary and “moderate misinformation on its platform.” 

In their letter, they said that during the pandemic, Rogan “has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine.”

Mitchell, also a Rock Hall inductee – and like Young, a polio survivor with dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S. – posted a link to the letter on her website along with her “I Stand With Neil Young!” note. 

“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” she wrote in the note. “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.”

2021 Kennedy Center honoree singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell waves to the audience during the Honors Gala for the 44th Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Washington.

Mitchell’s entire catalog is not on Spotify, but on Sunday there were five albums and a compilation of her ’80s recordings for Geffen Records on the service.

Missing are classic albums “Blue” (1971) and “Court and Spark” (1974). But her singles “Big Yellow Taxi” and “A Case of You” have earned more than 135 million and 100 million streams on the service, respectively.

USA TODAY has reached out to Spotify for comment on Mitchell’s and Lofgren’s requests. 

“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,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday. “We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

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On his Neil Young Archives website, Young encouraged other musicians to join him and countered criticism that his demands amounted to censorship.

“I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship,” he wrote. “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. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”

This has led to a growing discussion on Twitter about whether more artists will follow Young. Lofgren also encouraged other “musicians, artists and music lovers everywhere, to stand with us all, and cut ties with Spotify.”

Best-selling author and researcher Brené Brown, who hosts two Spotify Original podcasts, said she would “not be releasing any podcasts until further notice. To our #UnlockingUs and #DaretoLead communities, I’m sorry and I’ll let you know if and when that changes,” she tweeted.

Musician and Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell tweeted he planned to follow suit. “Where he goeth, I will follow,” Farrell tweeted.

“If all artists were as punk rock as Neil Young maybe we wouldn’t be getting absolutely screwed by corporate streaming companies,” tweeted country singer-songwriter Margo Price.

Apparently not on the #DeleteSpotify team: Barry Manilow. Some Twitter traffic including a tweet by actress Debra Messing, suggested the singer wanted to leave Spotify, too. 

Not so, he says. “I don’t know where (the rumor) started, but it didn’t start with me or anyone who represents me,” Manilow tweeted Friday.

Contributing: Terry Collins

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.

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