James Blunt jokes he'll release 'new music' if Spotify doesn't cut ties with Joe Rogan as Joni Mitchell, Brené Brown take stands

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James Blunt has waded into the controversy over Spotify siding with Joe Rogan rather than musicians like Neil Young. (Photo: Javier Bragado/Redferns)
James Blunt has waded into the controversy over Spotify siding with Joe Rogan rather than musicians like Neil Young. (Photo: Javier Bragado/Redferns)

James Blunt is the latest musician to weigh in on Neil Young's decision last week to pull his music from Spotify over its continued support of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast despite complaints that it is spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

In contrast to other performers, the "You're Beautiful" singer joked on Twitter that he'll release more music if the streaming service doesn't take a stand against Joe Rogan.

"If Spotify doesn't immediately remove Joe Rogan, I will release new music onto the platform," the British singer quipped on Saturday, adding the hashtag #YouWereBeautiful."

Though Blunt is known for his self-deprecating takes on his music — joking days ago about singing one song on his "Greatest Hit" tour — his tweet fired up folks on both sides of the issue. "You think censorship is funny?" read one response from a Rogan supporter, while others urged him to stand in solidarity with Young by pulling his own music from the platform, writing, "We need action, not jokes."

"Thank you for saying something," read another comment. "It’d be great if you added to the wave trying to tell Spotify (and, then, all the others) that anti-vax crap must stop. Seriously, as a Tom Waits fan, if you ditch Spotify, I will buy all of your albums. Really."

Blunt's joke comes as fellow Canadian music legend Joni Mitchell shared her own plans to follow Young's lead.

“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify," Mitchell, who like Young is a polio survivor, shared in a statement posted to her website on Friday. "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.”

Musician Nils Lofgren of Crazy Horse and E Street Band fame is also pulling his material, while author and social scientist Brené Brown announced over Twitter on Saturday that she is not releasing her podcasts on the streaming service "until further notice."

Joni Mitchell has also announced her plans to remove her music from Spotify. (Photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner)
Joni Mitchell has also announced her plans to remove her music from Spotify. (Photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

While it's unclear where Blunt, 47, actually stands on the debate, the singer's friend and former British Army comrade Prince Harry has made his opinions known. According to a statement from the Archewell production company founded by the royal and wife Meghan Markle, whose 2018 wedding Blunt attended, the couple have been voicing concerns to Spotify since last April about “the all-too-real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform.”

The couple have a multiyear podcasting goal with Spotify, but "have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis. We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”

On Sunday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek issued a statement clarifying its platform rules while stressing that the streaming service would avoid taking "on the position of being content censor."

"A decade ago, we created Spotify to enable the work of creators around the world to be heard and enjoyed by listeners around the world," Ek shared. "To our very core, we believe that listening is everything. Pick almost any issue and you will find people and opinions on either side of it. Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly. We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users. In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.

"You’ve had a lot of questions over the last few days about our platform policies and the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly. This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including COVID-19.

"Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time. These issues are incredibly complex. We’ve heard you — especially those from the medical and scientific communities — and are taking the following steps."

Ek noted that Spotify will add a content advisory to podcast episodes that discuss COVID-19, directing listeners to fact-based resources on the subject "to combat misinformation." He also pledged to "raise awareness around what's acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on our platform."

"I trust our policies, the research and expertise that inform their development and our aspiration to apply them in a way that allows for broad debate and discussion, within the lines," Ek continued. "We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike. That doesn’t mean that we always get it right, but we are committed to learning, growing and evolving."

Updated, Jan. 30 at 3:15 p.m.: This article has been updated to include Spotify's statement.

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