ON A SUNDAY afternoon this winter, I sat listening to some classic bossa nova playing over a streaming service called Tidal. That last detail is important only because I spent the previous morning switching from Spotify, the dominant music streaming service, in what may be the single least effective moral statement of my life (though there are other contenders to that crown). But sometimes you just have to stand up for reality.
The Spotify kerfuffle began, as you’ve probably heard, when it reportedly made a $200 million deal with Joe Rogan for the right to broadcast his podcast, a remarkably long and tendentious series of rants that included his advice that 20-somethings should not be vaccinated against the coronavirus (as well as repeated use of racist language). Rogan also had as a guest on his show the remarkably underwhelming Canadian philosophe Jordan Peterson who explained, incoherently, why the models that physicists have built to model the earth’s climate couldn’t possibly work. In response to Rogan’s anti-vax rant, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell—generational icons if ever there were—pulled their music from the streaming service and others have done the same. They were met with criticism from Roganers who called this an attempt at censorship and accused them of betraying their ’60s-era anti-establishment credentials.