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Neil Young, Spotify And Nonsense Conclusions

Neil Young
Neil Young

Since his entire catalog has been pulled off Spotify, Neil Young has been at the center of the anti-Joe Rogan campaign, but there is still an unanswered question: Does Neil Young control his catalog? A year ago, Young sold 50% of publishing rights of his entire song catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a UK investment vehicle founded by Merck Mercuriadis. According to what was reported at the time, “The deal gives Hipgnosis the rights to the worldwide copyright and income interests from 1,180 songs composed by Young.” 50% is not 100% but it nevertheless means that the famous singer-songwriter doesn’t entirely own his songs, and Young was very probably unable to independently pull his own music from Spotify. On his website, you can read:” I want to thank my partners for standing with me. My deal with Merck Mercuriadis and HIPGNOSIS began on January 1, 2021. The company HIPGNOSIS now has part of my publishing and I am very happy with their support. I want to personally thank Merck and HIPGNOSIS for standing with me. Losing 60% of worldwide streaming income by leaving SPOTIFY is a very big deal, a costly move, but worth it for our integrity and our beliefs. Misinformation about COVID is over the line.” He is also thanking his label and his “good friends at Warner Brothers-Reprise” who “also stand by him.”

So it’s clear that removing a catalog from a streaming platform is a decision taken by several people more often than by the artist alone. Young’s ex-bandmate David Crosby tweeted that he would have done the same if he could: “Neil and Joni and Nils and others are correct …the streamers do carry people telling outright lies that are really doing harm …I would do the same if I could.” Crosby is one of the numerous artists who sold his entire catalog last year along with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks… Even Taylor Swift doesn’t own the rights of her catalog since her former label, Big Machine Label Group, sold the masters to media company Ithaca Holdings… this is the reason why she is re-recording her albums. In short, plenty of artists have no say in the matter and are not in a position to decide whether their songs should stay on Spotify or not.

Sure, but what about Neil Young? He still owns 50% and said it was a decision he took with his partners, but this was obviously enough to trigger a conspiracy theory. When people want to find the connection that they are looking for, nothing is going to stop them. Just follow the logic of these people: Hipgnosis Songs Fund owns 50% of Neil Young’s catalog and, last year, Blackstone, one of the world’s most powerful financial players, invested $1 billion in music copyrights via Hipgnosis. Some of these “brilliant researchers who graduated from Google or Youtube university” found out that Blackstone appointed Jeffrey B. Kindler, former Chairman, and CEO of Pfizer, as a Senior Advisor in 2020. It was enough for these same people to conclude that Pfizer is Neil Young’s boss!!

It doesn’t even occur to these people that Blackstone has invested in everything you can imagine (from motels to solar technology to luxury brands, to Las Vegas resorts, to oil companies, to real estate to a multitude of technologies…) and that a partnership with a company that owns a part of Neil Young’s catalog is a truly insignificant part of the investment company. But it doesn’t stop these people to conclude without hesitation that Pfizer “used Neil Young to remove Joe Rogan from his platform,” or that “Young has sold out to big pharma.” It’s so ridiculous, so sloppy that some of them even have mixed up Blackstone with Blackrock, another multinational company. What can I say? If people want to find a connection they will find one, even though it means ignoring any common sense. Go on social media and you will see tons of these people repeating the same absurdity. while thinking they are clever than you for making these more-than-far-fetched conclusions.

Jeffrey Kindler was also the vice president of McDonald’s Corporation at one point in his career, but nobody is saying that McDonald’s owns Neil Young’s catalog. What a flawed logic! This is what happens to your brain on YouTube.

Neil Young made the decision he wanted to make, and he was lucky he still had a say in the matter. But this has nothing to do with Pfizer or big pharma.

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