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Neil Young is returning to Spotify - but he's still upset about Joe Rogan and sound quality

By Mike Murphy

Neil Young's music is returning to Spotify, two years after the rock legend yanked his songs off the service to protests its exclusive deal with podcaster Joe Rogan.

Last month, Rogan signed a new deal with Spotify Technology SA (SPOT) that widened distribution of his popular but often controversial podcast to platforms including Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet's (GOOGL) (GOOG) YouTube.

In a blog post Tuesday, Young said he can't afford to boycott every service if he wants his music to be heard. He also renewed his longstanding complaint that Spotify offers poor sound quality.

"My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I had opposed at Spotify," Young wrote. "I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all, so I have returned to Spotify, in sincere hopes that Spotify sound quality will improve and people will be able to hear and feel all the music as we made it."

When Young left Spotify two years ago, he decried the spread of COVID-19 disinformation on the platform, and specifically cited Rogan. "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both," he wrote at the time. He also encouraged Spotify employees to quit, "before it eats up your soul."

A few artists, most notably Joni Mitchell, left Spotify in solidarity with Young.

It was unclear when Young's music would be available to stream on Spotify. As of Tuesday evening, only a handful of Young's songs - mostly live tracks - were available on the service.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse are set to release a new album, "FU##IN' UP," in April, featuring re-recorded songs from their 1990 album, "Ragged Glory."

Spotify shares have surged about 38% year to date, and are up more than 105% over the past 12 months. In early February, the company surprised analysts with higher-than-expected user growth in is fourth quarter.

-Mike Murphy

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


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03-12-24 2144ET

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