Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is the latest famous face to weigh in on the debate surrounding Spotify and the Covid-19 misinformation spread on the streaming service’s flagship podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Byrne has said that he feels Daniel Ek’s company is “making artists uncomfortable” around the scandal.
In January, Rogan and Spotify drew the ire of many for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines during The Joe Rogan Experience, which led to a string of high-profile artists removing their work off the service, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
It’s interesting that Byrne has now entered the debate. In 2013, he made headlines when he criticised the “pittance” that artists are paid in royalties by services such as Spotify. Then, he argued that he had removed as much of his work as possible from the platform. Again, he has shared his thoughts in a new interview with British publication the Guardian.
He said: “There’s been all these things about platforms having… let’s say questionable or controversial content (and) putting out misinformation or outright lies or… not exactly hate speech, but things that are making a lot of artists uncomfortable”.
Byrne added: “And it’s pretty tough to do anything to help ameliorate that unless you’re a Drake or Taylor Swift, or those kinds of artists. It’s pretty hard for the rest of us to have influence”.
Later, Byrne counted “A handful of mega, mega artists are doing really well, and many of the others – especially emerging artists – are having a tough time with it. There was definitely a period where I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be tough for a lot of artists’, especially with Spotify’s ‘freemium’ layer.”
Supporting the campaigning of Swift to help reduce streaming services monopolies, Byrne clarified: “I watched as Taylor Swift went to Apple and said, ‘You can’t do this; you can’t have a freemium layer that will last forever.’ And she – I mean, bless her heart – she managed to get them to [change their policy]. Which I think was brave for her and good for a lot of the rest of us.”
It’s been a busy period for David Byrne. Last week, he released his collaboration with pop-heroine, Mitski, on ‘This Is A Life’. The song was written as part of the soundtrack for A24’s new flick, Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Listen to ‘This Is A Life’ below.