Two Weeks Later, Neil Young Finally Removes His Music From Spotify

Two Weeks Later, Neil Young Finally
Lester Cohen/WireImage

It’s taken him two weeks, but Neil Young has finally followed up on his threat to remove his music from streaming services. Some time this past weekend, most of Young’s albums disappeared from Spotify, Apple Music, Rdio and other subscription streaming services. A Spotify spokesperson confirmed the removal when contacted by Variety.

Albums removed include Young’s most recent, “The Monsanto Years,” as well as classics like the 1972 album “Harvest” and the 1992 follow-up “Harvest Moon.” Young has recorded more than 40 live and studio albums throughout his career, most of which are now unavailable for streaming.

Young took to Facebook and Twitter earlier this month to declare that he was going to take his music off streaming services. Unlike other musicians, Young’s primary beef with Spotify and similar services wasn’t about the economics of streaming. Instead, he complained that the audio quality of music services was too low.

“I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” he said, adding: “I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.”

However, Young wasn’t able to remove his entire catalog from streaming services. Currently, Spotify still makes five albums available for streaming, including the 1983 title “Trans” and “Old Ways” from 1985. A similar selection is available on Apple Music and Rdio.

All of these albums were recorded by the musician for Geffen Records. The rights to these albums are now held by Universal Music, which apparently didn’t share Young’s views on streaming audio quality.

Neil Young’s albums are still available for sale through iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and other download stores. Young has also begun to sell his music via Pono, a company founded by the musician to sell a high-definition music player and high-quality music downloads.

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    1. Jeff says:

      Slight overreaction by Neil young imho. Spotify sounds fine to me. What about people in the 60s listening to his music on a transistor radio?

    2. Bob says:

      Well thats a stupid move by neil dung.

      You were in my spotify playlist……but now youre not……so i cant listen to your songs.

      Whats the point in that.

      Btw Spotify sounds pretty decent to me through my old 1st edition Bose sound dock.

      I play Spotify daily, just not neil dung now it seems. ……twat.

    3. wavydavy says:

      Neil does what he wants. His fans are well aware of this. I respect his decision, but I understand people being put off by it. It is that same attitude that has kept him vital for me all these years. He sticks to his guns when he has made his mind up. There is a hint of this in the Neil music you CAN get on Spotify…the Geffen stuff. He is the only artist I know who was sued by his record company at that time for making “un-Neil” music. As far as the money thing goes, he doesn’t need any money, he could make more money by putting his stuff on Spotify but he doesn’t feel that the quality is as good as it could be and corporations that could make the improvements won’t because why should they until consumers make refuse to buy it. He does have a long standing issue with the bad quality digital music that is streamed. His point is that vinyl quality can be digitized. Everybody that has listened to his albums (or most artist’s music that is mixed right in the first place) on vinyl knows that you are missing a lot of deepness and nuance That should be the standard as far as he is concerned. And if he makes his own player to bring this to the masses and makes a bazillion dollars in the process more power to him.

    4. Bababooey says:

      He’s a DICK! It’s all about the MONEY, don’t let him fool you. He shouldn’t complain, he has done anything decent in years!

    5. Coops says:

      I don’t actually believe his stated reasoning for this. Had this been a younger artist, maybe I would. But Young has been recording since the 70’s. Yet somehow digital streaming, most importantly along with leaps in speaker and headphone technology, is somehow lower audio quality than the world half of his music was original released into? Nup. Not a chance.

      I think it’s really about money and he doesn’t want to admit it. Largely due to how that would make his “anti-corporate” stance appear.

      Anyway. the fact that his “Old Ways” album is still on Spotify is deliciously ironic. Good luck to him.

    6. bababooey says:

      He’s a CANADIAN WANKER!

    7. Genny says:

      😑 I’m sad. I probably would have bought some of Neil Young’s music if I’d even had the chance to listen. It only takes one song sometimes to become a fan. Guess I’ll give my money to remakes then… Good luck to Nils Lofgren who does a lovely version of Harvest Moon. Check him out. Even a faded picture holds meaning to those who have nothing.

    8. David Rogers says:

      Old ways.

    9. This is a shame. I only really started listening to Neil this year after seeing his activism against corporations and this made me admire him for using his celebrity to stick it to them and raising awareness. I am an avid music lover and want artist to make money from their art. However, I don’t want to keep adding to landfill by purchasing more cds or hard drives to keep collecting and hoarding. That is why I like streaming services like Spotify. Mr Young if you are rreading this I hope you change your mind so I can keep sharing you art and messages with my kids

    10. Joel says:

      I own most of Neil’s older vinyl albums and have bought quite a few of his CDs. Why can’t he just be honest with the world? He’s claiming that he pulled his music because of the sound quality but he leaves it up electronically for sale? So he doesn’t care if it sucks just as long as someone’s paying full price? I wish he was as concerned about the quality of what he’s putting out (like Dylan) instead of recycling old music and shows. $40 for the live at massey hall vinyl? He’s lost his heart of gold, and his mind and at least this fan.

    11. I love Neil Young but when I read this I am reminded of some of the first digital recordings I obtained that contained a warning that digital quality may reveal limitations of the source (analog) tape. I have never has the emotional impact from digital music that I used to from an exceptionally clean analog recording especially from strings. I’ve heard that the difference is the loss of “infinite resolution” of an analog player (turntable). That said, I do wonder whether some Neil’s material would fare that well with very high resolution. For me its about Neil’s writing, arrangement, and presentation more than vocal or instrumental virtuosity. I wish he was still on Spotify with the rest of my collection.

    12. kari says:

      I can’t live without my Neil Young playlist on Spotify. How expensive is PONO? Long time fan, since I was 6! I have to say the sound quality on Spotify was just fine. It makes me sad to think at his age and stage of his long successful career, he’s pulling a Howard Stern and SIRIUS.
      This is a sign of greed, Mr. Young. Bull puckey about the quality. We can still listen to your music on our smart phones. We just have to pay for every single song. In have 300 songs on my Spotify playlist. What am I misunderstanding here. Rockin in the NOT free world.
      Im highly upset. This is so unlike you. Pshaw!!!

    13. Neil is talking nonsense when he talks of sound quality.Spotify premium might be at a lower bitrate, but I doubt anyone can really tell the difference from lossless or CD.

    14. I am Canadian… I am proud of Mr. Young and his accomplishments… But I also happen to live in the USA and pay for Spotify so that I may not BREAK THE LAW to listen to music.
      This forces people like me to do the unthinkable and consider getting his music… ahem… ELSEWHERE.
      Lest I pay the hundreds of dollars to have my CD’s sent to me so that I can listen to the originals that I own.
      So thanks for driving me to that there Neil. Good call there.

      • kari says:

        Totally ! I am beside myself with all the conflict of emotions I’m feeling. Greed. Pulling a Howard Stern with his no commercial lie.
        Not a good move. I heard Neil say he was going for this. You know his Pono device. He’s just turned on his self.

    15. Trans is still on there, that’s a great one!

    16. Doug Bradley says:

      Frankly, Neil, F**k off. I’ve been a fan for the whole of your career. I’ve turfed over a lot of money to you over the years through, albums, CDs, gigs and merchandise. Today I went back to Spotify to give Storytone another listen with a view to buying it and see if I could check out Monsanto. Nothing. So now I won’t be hearing or buying either of those albums. Get over yourself, sir. Hearing your wonderful music – albeit in a format you may consider inferior – is, for me and a generation of potential new fans, better than not hearing it at all.

      • kari says:

        Im with you. Im so mad. The quality was just fine .
        Greed. Greed. Greed.
        He divorces Peggy, prior to that is seen with the now fat hideous Darryl Hannah, and now this. He HAS lost his cotton picking mind.

      • kari says:

        Totally ! I am beside myself with all the conflict of emotions I’m feeling. Greed. Pulling a Howard Stern with his no commercial lie.
        Not a good move. I heard Neil say he was going for this. You know his Pono device. He’s just turned on his self.

    17. Mike says:

      I use my Ipad to send Neil via Bluetooth AptX Codec to my NAD D3020 and out through a pair of Mirage MRM1 speakers. Sounds absolutely as good as a CD. C’mon Neil! WTF!

    18. I’m starting to think Neil Young is going to damage himself and his legacy with all this bullshit

    19. shawwakefield says:

      Thanks for the article. For those who live outside US and want to access Spotify, you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.

    20. trogdor says:

      lame

    21. joao says:

      I’ve just checked now and his music is still there in Spotify

    22. Maybe it’s not the quality of the streaming but the quality of your whiny ass voice. You’re good, Neil, but your not THAT good. You should have stayed with CS&N.

    23. Pc says:

      First, I can’t get the funk out with Prince, and now I can’t scream at the wall, railng against the man with Neil on Rdio! What am I gunna do?? Oh wait, there’s over 25,000,000 other tracks to check out…

    24. eddie willers says:

      The man’s gone crazy.

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