I don’t know what else Neil Young expected Spotify to do. There’s just no way they could let an artist dictate a decision like that about another content creator and say, “OK, Neil. See ya, Joe.” He left them no choice.
The terms, not the person
Meanwhile and basically simultaneously, YouTube shut down Dan Bongino for spreading COVID misinformation — the very thing Neil objected to Joe Rogan doing — with no particular musician yelling for that to happen. Rogan’s content simply violated YouTube’s terms of service.
Maybe instead, Neil could’ve started drawing attention to Spotify’s terms of service that allow a Joe Rogan to mass-produce misinformation and bad critical thinking under the Spotify brand. Highlight the need to take some responsibility for what gets distributed on its platform (especially regarding a public health crisis). Maybe draw some other musicians into that effort and apply some leverage that way.
Swapped a couple of thoughts on this with a friend who equates Neil’s move more to the situation in North Carolina where artists (including Bruce Springsteen) canceled scheduled tour stops to protest a particular new state law.
The thought being that some high-profile actions might set the stage for ongoing pressure from others and eventual progress.
I like that framing better. That approach did understandably frustrate some fans, but it also conveyed more of a sense of strength from the artists than the initial superficial appearance of a failed ultimatum.
What I don’t like about the near-term dynamic is any pressure on other artists (from others, not Young) to do the same and reduce their revenue with essentially zero chance of affecting the desired change. Hopefully, that expectation will fizzle out. Maybe the momentum and discussion that Neil Young is generating here will lead to some progress down the line, in which case he will certainly deserve some credit.