(By Mike McVay) It’s been in the news for the last few weeks. Neil Young cancelled himself from Spotify because he doesn’t like that they have Joe Rogan’s podcast on their platform. The Los Angeles Times headline screamed “Veteran singer-songwriter Neil Young recently urged “other artists and record companies” to “move off the SPOTIFY platform and stop supporting SPOTIFY’s deadly misinformation about COVID.”
If you’re among the many that agree, and the few that understand the difference between misinformation and information, then you likely applaud Neil’s stance. If you are a Joe Rogan fan, then regardless of your stance on this specific topic, you probably couldn’t care less. Young has been followed by Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash and the entirety of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young … so far … with more artists rumored to be joining the boycott.
This isn’t the first time this legendary singer-songwriter has protested. Neil Young has been an amazing voice for my generation. Protesting the Viet Nam War, singing about the Kent State killings in Ohio, feeding the hungry and using his high-profile platform for good. Despite the jokes on social media asking if anyone under 50 knows who he is, his message is getting through. He’s a man of action and stood by his words. Whether you agree with his opinion or not, he is to be admired as his move hurts him more than anyone else and he did it anyway.
The moment for pause, though, should be the realization that most platforms, including OTA radio, have content with multiple views and unique takes on topics that are controversial. Young departs Spotify and SiriusXM launches the Neil Young Channel, that will feature only Neil Young’s music, through February. It’s a really smart marketing tactic and it garnered a great deal of publicity.
What isn’t mentioned is that SiriusXM delivers the Patriot Channel and Patriot Plus. That’s two conservative talk channels with hosts that likely share opinions that are controversial and polarizing. I’m not signaling out SiriusXM. Apple, Amazon, Google, Pandora … and so on … all have podcasts similar to the aforementioned conservative programs mentioned. Each of the three major broadcast companies have conservative talk shows that also feature polarizing hosts. Young can’t boycott them all.
The question isn’t should these platforms have conservative talk, or liberal talk, but rather that we should all have responsible talk. It’s getting harder and harder to note the difference between fact and opinion delivered by some hosts and on-air talent. I’m absolutely fine with talent voicing their opinion. They should do that as that’s what the audience listens to them for, but they should remind listeners that what they’re hearing is their opinion. It’s as simple as saying “I think.” When you quote facts, source them. When you jump off to a discussion of the facts, do so in a way that the audience knows you’re sharing your opinion from/about those facts. Your opinion matters. It’s an opinion. Say so.
Graham Nash, in his press release to the industry announcing that he too is leaving Spotify, magnified Neil Young’s plea to stop misinformation. He said, “there is a difference between misinformation, in which one is unaware that what is being said is false, versus disinformation which is knowingly false and intended to mislead and sway public opinion.” Think about that for a moment. Why would there ever be a question of whether or not the information we disseminate would be factual or not? Doesn’t it seem like that should be standard operating procedure?
Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]