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Joni Mitchell said Friday that she would remove her music from Spotify, joining Neil Young in protesting the streaming service for its role in giving a platform to Covid-19 vaccine disinformation.

Mitchell, esteemed singer-songwriter of songs like “Big Yellow Taxi,” and whose landmark album “Blue” just turned 50, released a brief statement on its website Friday saying it would remove its music from the streaming service. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” he wrote. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities in this matter.”

His statement adds fuel to the fire to a small but growing revolt over Spotify, in which few major artists have spoken out but fans have commented extensively on social media. The debate has also highlighted questions about the power of artists to control the distribution of their work, and the ever-thorny issue of freedom of expression on the Internet.

Spotify removed Young’s music on Wednesday, two days after he published an open letter calling for its removal in protest against “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Spotify’s most popular podcast, which has been criticized for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines.

It did so after a group of hundreds of scientists, professors and public health experts called on Spotify to remove a Dec. 31 episode of Rogan’s show featuring infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Malone. The scientists wrote in a public letter that the show promoted “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines.”

Mitchell is the first major artist to follow Young, following a couple of days of speculation and rumors on social media.

Young and Mitchell have a deep history together. Both are Canadians who helped lead the singer-songwriter revolution in Southern California in the late 1960s and 1970s.

On Spotify, Mitchell is listed with 3.7 million monthly listeners, and two of his songs – “Big Yellow Taxi” and “A Case of You” – exceed 100 million streams.

While few other major artists have spoken out so far, Young’s stance has struck a chord with fans. Twitter was peppered with announcements from listeners saying they were cancelling their subscriptions, and screenshots from Spotify’s app showed a message from its customer support team saying it was “receiving a lot of contacts, so it may take time to respond.” Spotify has not said how many customers canceled their subscriptions.

Tech rivals have also pounced on the controversy, with SiriusXM rebooting a Neil Young channel and Apple Music calling itself “the home of Neil Young”.

In a statement on his website on Friday, Young reiterated his objections to Rogan’s podcast and criticized Spotify’s sound quality. He also said he supported freedom of speech.

“I support freedom of speech. I’ve never been in favor of censorship,” he said. “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 spreads harmful information.”



Reference-www.nytimes.com

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