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More People Are Listening to Neil Young After He Yanked His Music From Spotify

Young and his Canadian compatriot Joni Mitchell saw streaming and sales numbers rise after pulling their music in protest of Covid misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast

Neil Young performing in 2019.

Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty

Neil Young saw a big boost in music streams and sales even after he pulled his music from Spotify in protest of the Covid-19 misinformation being shared on The Joe Rogan Experience. 

Young’s numbers have been rising steadily for two weeks now, according to MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Soundscan). The musician first demanded Spotify remove his music on Jan. 24 in a since-deleted letter on his website, and two days later the streaming service began to oblige. For the period of Jan. 27 through Feb. 3, Young saw a four percent rise in his on-demand streaming numbers and a whopping 80 percent rise in album sales.

Even without Spotify, Young’s on-demand streaming numbers were impressive as he pulled in 5.6 million for that Jan. 27 through Feb. 3 period (he’d notched just over 5.3 million the previous week, while before that he typically hovered around four million streams). Along with all the attention his protest move garnered, Young might’ve gotten an additional boost from one of Spotify’s main competitors, Apple Music, which launched a new marketing campaign promoting the availability of Young’s extensive catalog.

But it was actual sales where Young saw his biggest percentage increases. Young sold 6,285 albums and 7,278 digital tracks for that period ending in Feb. 3, amounting to an 80 percent rise in album sales (he had 3,484 the previous week) and a 74 percent rise in digital song sales (4,190 the previous week). Young’s album sales were almost nearly split in half between physical and digital, and his physical album sales jumped from 1,548 to 3,128, an increase of 102 percent (perhaps his decision to take his music off Spotify also served as a reminder that the infinite jukebox is not necessarily as infinite and permanent as we’ve come to expect).

Young wasn’t the only artist protesting Spotify to see their stream and sales numbers rise, either. Joni Mitchell, who was the first major artist to follow Young’s lead, saw an even bigger jump — 32 percent — in her on-demand streaming numbers, which rose from 2.3 million to just over 3 million. Mitchell also saw a major rise in her album and digital track sales, the former jumping from 1,274 to 2,878 (a 125 percent change) and the latter leaping from 1,205 to 3,540 (a 193 percent change).

From Rolling Stone US