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Neil Young, left, and Joe Rogan. In his public letter, Young said Spotify 'can have Rogan or Young. Not both.'The Associated Press

Neil Young wasn’t bluffing.

Spotify SPOT-N confirmed Wednesday that it has begun removing Mr. Young’s music from the streaming service, two days after the star briefly posted a public letter calling on Spotify to choose between him and Joe Rogan, the star podcast host who has been accused of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines.

“We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” Spotify said in a statement. “With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we’ve removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.”

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Mr. Young’s music was expected to be fully removed from Spotify within hours. The news that Spotify was removing Mr. Young’s music was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In his letter, which Mr. Young had addressed to his label, Warner Records, and his manager, he said, “Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform. I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform.”

He added: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

The letter was removed from Mr. Young’s website soon after it was posted, although it drew wide news-media attention.

Mr. Rogan, whose show The Joe Rogan Experience is the most popular podcast on Spotify, has come under fire for an episode on Dec. 31 that featured Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious-disease specialist.

This month, hundreds of scientists, professors and public-health experts asked Spotify to take down the episode, which they said promoted “several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines.”

Mr. Rogan, a comedian and actor, signed an exclusive podcast deal with Spotify in 2020 that has been reported to be worth US$100-million, although Spotify has not confirmed that figure.

Spotify has not commented on Mr. Young’s request, and a representative of the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. But Spotify has defended Mr. Rogan in the past, including after an episode that featured conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in 2020.

“We want creators to create,” Daniel Ek, chief executive officer and co-founder of Spotify, told The Financial Times then. “It’s what they do best. We’re not looking to play a role in what they should say.”

Spotify has 318 million monthly listeners around the world, including 172 million who pay for subscriptions, according to the company’s most recent financial disclosures.

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