Neil Young is begrudgingly returning to Spotify after admitting his protest against Joe Rogan was unsuccessful



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Neil Young is returning to Spotify after a two-year absence—but he doesn’t seem especially happy about it.

The folk-rock legend, best known for songs like “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man,” announced his return Tuesday, conceding that his protest of the service, which centered around what he called the spread of vaccine misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast, had been unsuccessful. And the expansion of Rogan’s program to other streaming platforms made it impossible to continue.

“My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I had opposed at Spotify,” he wrote in a post on the Neil Young Archives Website. “I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all.”

Deciding to come back doesn’t mean Young is throwing his support behind Spotify, however. In his announcement, he dinged the service, calling it “the #1 streamer of low res music in the world … where you get less quality than we made.” He also plugged rival services Qobuz and Tidal, which offer high-resolution music options.

Young has been an evangelist for high-resolution streaming for years. In 2012, he co-founded Pono Music, which was dedicated to better quality recordings. That service went live in 2015, but shut down in 2017.

High-resolution music was a side battle, though. Young’s real issues were with Rogan, who has also been criticized for being anti-transgender. That podcast, however, is Spotify’s most popular—and has been for four years.

Young wasn’t the only artist to pull their catalog from Spotify. Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and David Crosby and India Arie all joined him initially. (Only Mitchell is still off the platform.) Billboard last year estimated Young’s boycott of Spotify had cost him $300,000 in royalties.

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