Joni Mitchell is riding her “Big Yellow Taxi” far, far away from Spotify.
The famed Canadian singer-songwriter who’s been turning out hits we all know — like “The Circle Game” — since the ’60s has officially joined Neil Young in calling for her music’s removal from the streaming service. Like the “Heart of Gold” writer and singer, Mitchell is fed up with Spotify’s willingness to support podcasters like Joe Rogan who perpetuate lies and incomplete truths about COVID-19, among other things.
Rogan’s podcast has been kicking around since 2009, but it notably became a Spotify exclusive in Dec. 2020. That’s why the recent pushback against Spotify has so squarely centered the controversial actor-turned-influential blowhard.
“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify,” Mitchell wrote on Jan. 28 under the headline “I Stand With Neil Young!” in a brief post on her website. “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.”
While she doesn’t single out Rogan by name, the post does conclude with a link out to “An Open Letter to Spotify.” The document, which is signed by “a coalition of scientists, medical professionals, professors, and science communicators” that includes more than 250 people, repeatedly points to The Joe Rogan Experience podcast as a source of COVID misinformation throughout the pandemic.
Young called on Spotify to remove his music from the service in an open letter of his own posted on Jan. 26. He wrote at the time that Spotify “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” The streaming giant chose the former, and now all of Young’s solo albums are missing from his artist page. The bulk of Mitchell’s catalog is missing as of Saturday afternoon as well; all that’s left are four albums from the ’80s and ’90s — Mitchell’s only four released under the Geffen Records label — and Shine from 2007, released by the Starbucks-owned Hear Music.
That still leaves many of Mitchell’s most famous works, including the albums featuring hits like “Big Yellow Taxi,” “The Circle Game,” and “A Case of You,” out of reach for Spotify listeners.
Young’s demand to have his music scrubbed from the service became the most high-profile step taken by an artist following the coalition-authored open letter to Spotify released earlier in January. Now, Mitchell has followed suit, people are canceling their subscriptions in such great numbers that the system seems to be overloaded, and Spotify’s shares have dropped far enough to wipe out $4 billion from the company’s market value. It sure doesn’t seem like this issue is going to just disappear overnight.