Like Lemmings off a Cliff, Joni Mitchell Follows Neil Young, Peter Frampton to Demand Spotify Remove Her Music

Like Lemmings off a Cliff, Joni Mitchell Follows Neil Young, Peter Frampton to Demand Spotify Remove Her Music
(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)

On the heels of Neil Young and Peter Frampton, and false rumors about Barely Man Enough Barry Manilow, now Joni Mitchell says she will pull her music from Spotify, because she cannot tolerate “Irresponsible people spreading lies.”

From Variety:

Joni Mitchell has pledged to remove her music from Spotify, just a few days after fellow singer-songwriter icon Neil Young did the same.

In a note on her official website titled “I Stand With Neil Young!,” Mitchell wrote: “I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. 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.”

Then let’s hope she writes another note condemning Dr. Anthony Fauci and her Canadian government, too. They are more than complicit in spreading lies and costing lives.

The last Neil Young song I recall listening to was “Harvest Moon” in 1992. He still writes and records; his last offering was in December 2021. But if the Billboard charts are any indication, it didn’t stir a demand for more of Young’s music.

As my colleague Jerry Wilson wrote:

Young, however, need not worry about being canceled as there is presently nothing to cancel. His latest album Barn, released in December, was on the album charts for a whopping two weeks, never going higher than #66. If he wants a reason to pull his music off of Spotify, a streaming service he despises, a far better reason would be the pathetic pittance it pays while Young is handsomely covering the rent with listeners paying him directly to stream his music.

So, not sure how much juice the yoots who frequent Spotify even give to the geriatric rocker. I don’t think Young cares about the money since, as my colleague Brad Slager pointed out, he sold off his catalog for $150 million.

The attention, on the other hand, well….

The last time I saw Peter Frampton was in a final episode of the television series, Madam Secretary. The moment was as exciting as his music. The obscure Florida band, Will to Power, did a better cover of his well-known hit, “Baby I Love Your Way,” than Frampton did originally. Frampton recently mounted a nostalgia tour before COVID, and got more attention in the press because his contraction of a rare autoimmune disease might prevent him from completing his tour. But in terms of his music? He’s not shaking the world, that’s for sure.

And what of Graham Nash’s muse, the iconic Joni Mitchell? Her music is more universally established, timeless, sampled, and re-recorded than probably Young’s and definitely Frampton’s. In terms of reach, many of us hear her music, even if we don’t know she wrote or produced it. She continues to influence artists the world over, and rightfully so. Singer Lana Del Rey is obsessed with reawakening Mitchell’s signature work and style, and the late, great, Prince used to pen fan letters to her when he was a teenager. While “Both Sides Now” was made popular by Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell wrote it, and is still getting the dollars in terms of publishing for that song and a host of others.

What is exceptionally curious about all this is these artists who celebrated free love (“Show Me The Way”), protested wars (“Ohio”), championed freedom of expression (“Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World”), and condemned the destruction of the environment and over development (“Big Yellow Taxi”) are now condemning another’s right to their free thought and expression. When these artists were young, they were the radicals and the disruptors who called out the status quo and stuck it to the man.

Now, they’re just parroting the establishment narrative that they would have roundly condemned back in their day.

How much is Spotify really losing from removing these fossils from their streaming service? Probably very little. Since Young sold out to the record label last year, it is that label which is taking the hit. Mitchell hangs on to her catalog, but it’s not like streaming original recordings of her songs are the main draw or even her main moneymaker.

Aside from the attention and supposed solidarity, I suspect these artists see it as an opportunity to make their voices heard again. Maybe they’re looking to start another cultural movement.

Good luck with that.

Aside from Baby Boomer nostalgia and the Covidians who are already trapped in groupthink, I am not sure any of these rockers, no matter how culturally ingrained, move the needle in getting Joe Rogan removed from the popular streaming platform.

One breathless report says that Spotify has lost three billion dollars in market share over the last few days of this kerfuffle. Spotify paid $100 million to bring Joe Rogan into their stable, so we’ll see whether the investment pays more than the fallout.

My bets are still on Spotify keeping their cash cow Rogan. The publicity alone has probably increased his listenership.

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