Neil Young and Joni Mitchell left Spotify. So why is some of their music still there?

A split image of Neil Young wearing a black hat, left, and Joni Mitchell wearing gold earrings
Musicians Neil Young, left, and Joni Mitchell have removed some of their music from Spotify.
(Rich Fury / John Shearer / Invision/AP)

Veteran musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell renounced Spotify last week after accusing the streaming giant of spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

So why do some of their songs still pop up on the platform?

Days after the folk-rock contemporaries announced plans to yank their catalogs from Spotify, several albums and songs by Young, 76, and Mitchell, 78, remain on their artist profiles. It appears that slim to none of the lingering tracks, however, were distributed by Reprise or its parent label Warner Records — which supported the singer-songwriters’ move to boycott Spotify.

On Jan. 26, Young was the first to pull much of his musical library after publicly presenting Spotify with an ultimatum: Him or Joe Rogan, the controversial podcast host who has drawn criticism for fueling conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.


Rogan has been the center of a firestorm of controversy surrounding how Spotify manages misinformation about COVID-19 on its audio platform.

When Spotify picked Rogan, the “Heart of Gold” hitmaker made good on his threat while thanking “my truly great and supportive record company Warner Brothers - Reprise Records, for standing with me in my decision.”

So far, Warner Records is the most prominent label to join the cause. And it looks like a handful of Young and Mitchell titles affiliated with other labels have yet to be scrubbed from the music app.

For example: Mitchell’s “Night Ride Home” (1991), “Dog Eat Dog” (1985) and “Wild Things Run Fast” (1982) — all albums released by Geffen Records — can still be found and played on Spotify. As can Mitchell’s 2003 compilation album “The Complete Geffen Recordings.” Geffen Records did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Times.

Neil Young penned — and then deleted — an open letter criticizing Spotify and Joe Rogan for ‘spreading false information’ about COVID-19 vaccines.

Other Mitchell records, such as the David Geffen Company/UMG Recordings’ ”Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm” (1988) and Hear Music/Universal’s “Shine” (2007) — are also accessible on the platform. And at least one Reprise track, “A Case of You,” is still standing — likely because it appears on the soundtrack for the 1998 film “Practical Magic.”

Not to mention Janet Jackson’s “The Velvet Rope” (1997) and Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust” (1975) — both albums that feature Mitchell as a guest.

Young’s surviving discography is slightly less extensive. A smattering of live performances recorded at benefit concerts, such as his 1985 Live Aid rendition of “The Needle and the Damage Done,” are still streamable. As are movie soundtrack entries “Journey Through the Past” from 2014’s “Inherent Vice” and “Campfire” from 2017’s “Bright.”

Joni Mitchell, longtime friend of Neil Young, has asked to have her music removed from Spotify, in protest of podcaster Joe Rogan’s anti-vaccine misinformation.

Shortly after Young and Mitchell abandoned Spotify, a couple of other entertainment figures followed their lead, and the head of the streamer pledged to “do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time.”

“We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in a statement published Sunday.

“That doesn’t mean that we always get it right, but we are committed to learning, growing and evolving.”

Ava DuVernay, Joni Mitchell and India Arie have abandoned Spotify in the wake of Neil Young’s protest against the streaming platform and podcast host Joe Rogan.

In a nine-minute video message, Rogan also promised Sunday to “do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives, so we can maybe find a better point of view.” (He also declared his love for Mitchell but confused her for fellow musician Rickie Lee Jones, but that’s another story.)

“I want to show all kinds of opinions,” Rogan added, “so that we can all figure out what’s going on and not just about COVID, but everything about health, fitness, wellness, the state of the world itself.”