Remember when a number of high-profile musicians asked for their music to be pulled from Spotify in protest of its love of promoting Covid-19 disinformation podcasts?
Well, as Spotify has yet to collapse or show any intention of ditching its NZ$150 million star Joe Rogan, artists are now beginning to return to the service with their tails firmly between their legs.
Crosby, Stills & Nash are back on Spotify, having originally asked for their music to be pulled from the service in solidarity with occasional bandmate Neil Young. At the time they said they wouldn’t return “until real action is taken to show a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce.”
Has that happened? Well, it depends on your definition. Spotify did add content advisories to podcasts discussing Covid vaccines (because nothing changes a conspiracy theorist’s mind like a corporate warning label), but otherwise, not much. And the controversy reportedly boosted Rogan’s popularity as these things often do.
So as protests go, you could put this one somewhere between “ineffectual” and “actively counter intuitive”. With that in mind, Crosby, Stills & Nash have reportedly agreed to donate money raised from Spotify streams to Covid-19 charities “for at least a month”, so that’s okay then.
This obviously makes the supergroup look a little bit silly, but the embarrassment isn’t over yet.
Because Neil Young shows no sign of backing down from his original protest, certain songs created under the wider Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young banner still aren’t available. As The Verge notes, these seem to be songs where Young — or Joni Mitchell, who also quit Spotify in solidarity — have a writing credit. As a result, this turns the LP Déjà Vu into an EP:
Spotify will be delighted that the protest ultimately limited itself to artists of a certain age who, bluntly, weren’t the main draw of its subscriber base. If it had spread to the Taylor Swifts, Drakes and Beyoncés of this world, then the company might have ultimately decided that its foray into podcasting just wasn’t worth the hassle.