Now People Are Cancelling Themselves


(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]


  1. Media is all opinions, that’s how you develop an audience. Any, I mean ANY radio company would hire Rogan yesterday (if they had the money), but he’s built an empire without radio, mostly because he doesn’t have to follow ridiculous rules, like “say the call letters, or remind people that this is just your opinion”….

    Today, all talk radio stations will be talking about Spotify and a Podcast. Why? Because it’s headline news, radio now covers big stories instead of being the big story. Keep creating rules like “Make sure you state this is just your opinion” and it will continue to water-down it’s product.

    I’m a middle market PD who would advise other PD’s to stop creating these rules that are just boring and do nothing but clog up the mind of the talent. I don’t want them worrying about how someone might be offended, just create the best experience and let the reactions fly.
    Our most polarizing host brings in the most cash, is vocal about his jab status, and can’t stand the current President. Without his advertisers, we’d be playing music on our FM signal. He packs events, whereas our music stations can’t get 5 people to show up at a gas station for free hot dogs.

    So, because Neil Young is angry and sad, You want me to convince this guy to state that “it’s just his opinion?” Hard pass from me. We’ve actually had multiple health officials and medical experts on over the last two years and have gotten ridiculously different perspectives. Know why? Their opinions are different. They take information and form opinions. Humans aren’t robots. We actually run a montage from experts about Covid (these are licensed professionals), and it’s 3 minutes of total insanity, but our audience laughs because all these opinions don’t really have a solid conclusion…. and that’s the point.

    Everything is an opinion once it’s prepared for media delivery. So, I thank this talent, weekly, for his understanding of his large and profitable audience, that employs dozens of people and his commitment to keep them passionately consuming our products and our advertisers’ products and services.

    Folks, stop looking for reasons that you and your talent need to apologize for everything. This industry used to be bold. Please, ignore apologist and PC advice. It’s why the business is losing audience and losing cash.

    • And that’s the problem. Spreading divisiveness poor taste and misinformation for the almighty dollar. I had a manager tell me once, “is that the kind of listener you really want to draw?” He was right, and unfortunately if you talk to the lowest common denominator that’s who you draw.

      • You mean making money? This is a business, not a religion. That manager is an idiot, by applying his moral judgment to humans.

  2. The heart of the matter is that while these artists all complained of disinformation I have yet to see chapter and verse of specific disinformation. And yes the n word is wrong but why is it okay for Howard Stern and the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau to do black face and Joe Biden in one of his speeches use the n word a number of times and not one of the aforementioned has been boycotted. Don’t like Rogan don’t listen.


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