Spotify: a recent history of controversy

From Joe Rogan’s guests to an insulted Bjork and allegations of fake artists, nothing seems to run smoothly for the internet’s largest music streaming platform...

Love it or hate it, Spotify has proved an enduring fixture of the music scene since its launch in 2006. Remember the days when the word streamwas a noun and meant a gently-flowing water course? Its thanks to the likes of Spotify (and later platforms like Apple Music) that were now able to stream any song, anywhere, and largely without paying for it, barring a monthly subscription fee. 

Like Napster and the iPod before it, any attempt to change the music industry doesnt sit well with those who actually make a living from it including the likes of Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift who temporarily withdrew their music from the service. And, with music piracy on the rise over the last twenty years, physical sales of actual IRL albums have declined, forcing musicians to take to the road if they want to make any cash. Its a problem Spotify has certainly exacerbated. 

"I'd sooner people stole my work than stream it from Spotify...”

“I’d sooner people stole my work than stream it from [Spotify].Biffy Clyro touring guitarist Mike Vennart told the website Screaming Silence in 2012. They pay the artists virtually nothing. Literally pennies per month. Yet they make a killing. They’ve forced the sales way down in certain territories, which wouldn’t be so bad if the bands actually got paid.

The latest controversy around the streaming service centres on blowhard Joe Rogans spat with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell in which the artists criticised the The Joe Rogan Experience host for featuring guests who contradicted mainstream Covid-19 information. Young and Mitchell asked to have their music removed from the platform as a result of the fallout. Over 270 scientists, physicians, professors, doctors, and healthcare workers also expressed concern over Rogans show in an open letter to Spotify.

“I’m not mad at Neil Young, I’m a huge Neil Young fan,Rogan, who reportedly signed an £82 million, multi-year deal to host his show exclusively on the platform beginning in 2020, noted in a 10-minute Instagram video. “My pledge to you is that I will 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 said. 

In this instance, the hatchet appears to have largely been buried, but Young and Mitchells Joe Rogan experience is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to controversies with the start-up platform. Here are some of its most memorable tiffs and upsets.

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