In light of a heavily publicized ultimatum, Spotify is reportedly removing Neil Young’s catalog of music from their platform after the artist threw a public temper tantrum over the music and podcast streaming service exclusively hosting Joe Rogan.
This debacle goes back to January 24th, when 76-year-old Neil Young posted an open letter on his website asking his management and record label to have his music removed from Spotify as a means to protest Spotify’s exclusive platform of Joe Rogan’s immensely popular podcast.
Namely, Neil Young was taking issue with Rogan purportedly “spreading fake information about vaccines” on Spotify, adding in his open letter that “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Well, it is of little shock to report that Spotify is just removing Neil Young’s music from the platform – because they’re obviously not going to remove the most popular podcaster of modern times in exchange for some artist whose best-selling album was from 1972.
Let’s face it – Spotify is a music streaming platform that is clearly more popular with the younger age demographics. While some users are a tad on the older side (most readily available data shows that users aged 55 or older make up 19% of the userbase), 55% of the userbase is 34 or younger. In the 35-54 age demographic, that only makes up about 27% of Spotify’s users.
In short, most of Spotify’s users likely don’t even know or care about Neil Young or his music. But Rogan is in the now – he’s contemporary, and most everyone (especially in Spotify’s target demographic) knows who Rogan is and is aware of his podcast.
From a numbers game, Neil Young has what Spotify notes on their artist page as “6,086,608 monthly listeners”, what that means is that among 381 million active users on the platform, just over 6 million people have in their artist playlists a Neil Young song here and there.
But that doesn’t mean his music is played 6 million times a month – far from. Neil Young’s most popular song is a live performance of “My Back Pages,” with 9.7 million plays. His second most popular song (Sugar Mountain – Live) has 3.7 million plays. For context, Rogan’s podcast was netting over 190 million monthly downloads in Spring of 2019, which likely led to his $100 million deal with Spotify to go exclusive.
It’s not hard to see who the proverbial bigger fish is in this pond.
Now, for the sake of hilarity, let’s examine artists on Spotify who have more monthly listeners than Neil Young to really put into perspective just how much he (and others) grossly overestimated his clout when touting his music catalog protest.
The Spice Girls, whose fame rose up and fizzled out with their 1996 album “Spice,” has 8,885,929 monthly listeners on Spotify – also, their top song “Wannabe” has over 683 million plays on the platform (well over 670 million more plays than Neil Young’s top song on the platform). Literally, a defunct all-female pop group that hasn’t been in full form since 2000 has more clout than Neil Young on Spotify.
Coolio, the mid-90s rapper who was as well known for his hairstyle as his music at the time, has 8,755,927 monthly listeners. His biggest hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” has over 813 million plays on the platform.
Going back to what some would consider the pioneers of hard rock, Boston, while they only tote 5,867,007 monthly listeners on Spotify – their top song “More Than a Feeling” has over 520 million plays. Even the extremely vulgar modern deathcore band Attila’s song “Middle Fingers Up” has over 22 million plays on Spotify – with a catalog running circles around Neil Young’s on the platform.
It’s painfully obvious, Neil Young hasn’t been a part of the modern lexicon in decades in terms of music, and the numbers show it. Hardly anybody who subscribes to Spotify’s premium service or free iteration will drop the platform because they suddenly can’t access his music there.