Neil Young severed ties with Spotify this week, but for Canadian listeners many of his classic songs are still streaming on the platform.
Heart of Gold, Harvest Moon and Rockin’ in the Free World are just a few of Young’s defining tracks that remain accessible on Spotify Canada nearly two days after a massive takedown of his music.
Their presence throws a wrench into Young’s passionate boycott of Spotify. Earlier this week, Young gave the streaming giant an ultimatum saying they must remove his music from the service if they continued to allow podcaster Joe Rogan to spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine on his show The Joe Rogan Experience.
Spotify, which has a multi-year distribution agreement with Rogan, granted Young’s request on Wednesday and within hours began taking down his albums.
In the United States, that left Young’s Spotify profile looking especially bare. Only a selection of collaborations he recorded with other artists were still available, including several from a 1992 live recording of Bob Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert.
In Canada, some of Young’s past work, Cinnamon Girl, Old Man and the entirety of his new album Barn, disappeared, but many other songs included on film soundtracks and compilations did not.
A representative for Spotify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Complex distribution rules
Music rights in the digital era are often complicated by past deals and other licensing agreements that determine who can upload and take down songs.
Young’s record label Warner Music Canada was unable to provide an explanation about the differences on Spotify Canada while the musician’s manager did not respond to requests for comment.
The 76-year-old musician has been outspoken on various COVID-19 concerns over the past two years. He told Howard Stern in a recent interview that he refused to tour any time soon over concerns he would be “playing to a bunch of people with no masks on.”
In a statement on his website, he worried that many of Spotify’s listeners are hearing misleading information about COVID.
They’re “impressionable and easy to swing to the wrong side of the truth,” he wrote.
“These young people believe Spotify would never present grossly unfactual information,” he said. “They unfortunately are wrong. I knew I had to try to point that out.”
He said he appreciated his record label for standing behind him, since Spotify is responsible for 60 per cent of his music being streamed all over the world. He said it was “a huge loss for my record company to absorb.”