American music icon David Crosby permanently had his music pulled from Spotify because he said he no longer wanted to be associated with a platform that supported the controversial podcaster, Joe Rogan.
Crosby's departure followed the exodus of other notable colleagues in the industry–including his former Crosby, Stills & Nash bandmates, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and India Arie–after Rogan spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and repeatedly used racial slurs on his podcast.
The New York Times revealed this week that Spotify reportedly paid Rogan $200 million for the exclusive rights to the podcast, which is nearly double the figure initially reported.
Further exacerbating the controversy was Rogan's repeated use of the n-word that led to nearly 100 episodes being pulled from Spotify's platform.
In an interview with music blog Stereogum, Crosby explained why he was leaving Spotify:
“They’re not going to suddenly develop a sense of moral responsibility. They’re scummy people.”
The 80-year old–who was also the founding member of the American rock band The Byrds–no longer owns his music after he sold publishing rights to Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group.
But he said he was "stunned" when Azoff agreed to remove his music from Spotify at his request when the entertainment executive didn't have to.
"They said, 'If that’s what you feel you have to do, we’ll go along with it,'" recalled the musician.
"I was stunned. That is not normal corporate behavior. Normally they go for the dollar and the quickest possible answer."
"They don’t go for that, they don’t do that. They don’t support a moral stand."
Crosby went on to explain how he is not a proponent of music streaming platforms in general due to the resulting lack of compensation for artists in the industry.
"I don’t like any of the streamers, because they don’t pay us properly," he said.
"Their proportion is wrong. They’re making billions with a band they’re paying out pennies with a p. That’s not OK. It’s not OK in that it took away half my income, and it’s not OK in that, especially, it makes it impossibly difficult for young people to make it in the business."
"It doesn’t pay them anything. It’s wrong. I don’t like Spotify on purpose because of that. I don’t like their quality level either. They bum up the signal pretty badly."
"But they and all the other streaming services are ripping us off. They’re quite happy with it. They have no intention of changing it.
When discussing Rogan, the singer said he supported Spotify's right to "spew his garbage."
But on the same token, Crosby asserted he had a "right to not be associated with it."
He recalled a conversation in which he told a friend:
“Listen man, if I was selling my records in a marketplace, I don’t want to be selling them next to some spoiled meat.”
Crosby added he didn't want to share a platform with Rogan, citing the podcaster's misogyny and the perpetual use of racial slurs on his podcasts as examples of his objectionable behavior.
"He doesn’t really represent me at all, so I don’t want to be there with him," said Crosby.
"That’s all I said. I said I’m removing me. I’m not trying censor him or you."
"That’s of course the first thing that all his fans said: 'This is censorship! You used to be a hippie!' I still am."
"I still have the exact same set of values. I just don’t want to be associated with that guy."
When asked if his demonstration would lead to bigger changes, Crosby has little hope for Spotify to change its tune.
"I don’t see them growing a conscience. I don’t believe there are good people working there. If they were good people, they wouldn’t work there."
"They’re not going to suddenly grow some balls and stand against the trend. They’re not going to feel the need to do the right thing.
"They’re going to keep on collecting money and being sh**ty to the world. That’s what we have to deal with."
Crosby explained how he was forced to reluctantly sell off his publishing rights when the halting of live performances at the height of the pandemic started affecting his livelihood.
"I can’t play live anymore. I’m 80 years old and I’m very fragile health-wise. I can’t change the marketplace. They’re making the money and they’re not going to change that."
And when asked what he would tell younger, aspiring musicians about how to navigate the industry as someone with the ability and enough clout to sell off his publishing rights, Crosby withheld encouragement.
"Don’t become a musician," he said.
"You know how sh**ty it is for me to say that? You know how much I don’t want to say that? Some bright-eyed young kid who has talent."
"To the Becca Stevens and the Michelle Willises and the Michael Leagues of this world? To my own son James? I don’t want to say that to them, and it is the truth."
"I don’t hold out any hope for it at all."
But when it comes to making new music, the octagenarian was more optimistic.
"What James and I are doing, and what the Lighthouse Band are doing — we’re making records anyway, because we love making records and because we think music is a lifting force."
"I think these are really hard times, and people need the lift."
"I’m making music because music makes things better and it makes people happier. That’s good enough for me. If I don’t get paid, I don’t get paid."