2 Artists Who Followed Through With Their Spotify Boycott (And 5 More Who Didn’t)

Since its inception in the late 2000s, Spotify has evolved from a novelty to a nuisance to a non-negotiable for artists who have chosen to boycott the streaming platform. However, while many prominent artists have been outspoken about their disdain for the media service, far fewer have been able to stand by their convictions and keep their music out of Spotify’s catalogue.

For context, Spotify’s catalogue is constantly changing. But at the time of this writing, only two artists with hundreds of thousands of listeners have kept almost their entire discographies off Spotify. Others have protested in smaller ways, like delaying when they send new releases to the app or choosing specific albums to include (or exclude) from the app. 

When it comes to the battle between Spotify and the Artist, the former has come out the victor more often than not.

Joanna Newsom

Indie folk singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom has been an adamant critic of Spotify since its early days in 2015. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Newsom called the streaming service a “cynical and musician-hating system. [Spotify] is like a villainous cabal of major labels. The business is built from the ground up as a way to circumvent the idea of paying their artists.” 

Newsom has made it clear that her main qualms with Spotify stem from their controversial payout practices. In 2024, artists made between $0.003 to $0.005 per stream. Unlike many artists who have protested against Spotify’s fractional payments but later uploaded their content to the app anyway, Newsom’s catalogue remains off the app. The only Newsom track available is her “Muppets Show Theme” from the 2011 motion picture soundtrack.

Garth Brooks

Country music star Garth Brooks has been famously anti-streaming for years. In a November 2014 interview with Access Hollywood (via Rolling Stone), he called YouTube “the devil” for its meager payouts. He kept his catalogue off all major streaming platforms until 2016, when he signed an exclusive licensing deal with Amazon Music. At a 2023 interview at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Brooks said his decision had to do with Amazon also being a retailer.

“You can sign your streaming deal, but part of that streaming deal is to move those physical units so the songwriters get paid. I stick up for the songwriters because I’m freakin’ one of them! Everything I do for the songwriters, I do for myself,” Brooks said. The only Garth Brooks album available on Spotify is ‘Live in Germany 1995,’ released by The Media Champ.


The late songwriter and guitarist Prince refused to allow his music on most media platforms, including YouTube, Spotify, and others, well into the mid-aughts. In addition to unfair compensation, Prince opposed the move from consuming full albums to standalone singles. In 2015, he pulled his music from all streaming platforms except Tidal. But his death months later, in April 2016, with no heirs or executor, complicated things.

The Prince estate and Tidal’s parent company, Roc Nation, engaged in a lengthy legal battle to determine whether Tidal still had exclusive rights to Prince’s catalogue. The estate and Roc Nation eventually settled out of court. Meanwhile, the estate formed a publishing deal with Universal Music. Universal ultimately negotiated new deals with platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. As of 2024, Prince’s extensive musical catalogue is available for streaming on Spotify.

Neil Young & Joni Mitchell

Fellow Canadian icons Neil Young and Joni Mitchell left and returned to Spotify in tandem. Young first pulled his catalogue from Spotify in January 2022 to protest the platform’s inclusion of Joe Rogan’s podcast, which was spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Mitchell followed suit shortly after that. Crosby, Stills, and Nash took their music off Spotify for a few months before republishing it sans any tracks written or performed by Young or Mitchell. 

In 2024, Young changed his tune when other streaming services like Apple and Amazon also made Joe Rogan’s podcast available on their platforms. “I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all, so I have returned to Spotify,” Young wrote in a statement on his website (via Billboard). Once again, Mitchell followed Young’s lead, silently republishing her discography, too.

Bob Seger

Bob Seger was one of the final anti-Spotify holdouts of his genre. But in 2017, he joined the ranks of other classic rock giants like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, who ultimately ceded to sharing their music via streaming in 2013 and 2016, respectively. Seger spoke to Rolling Stone about his no-streaming stance in 2014. The “Night Moves” musician cited a long-running disagreement between his manager, Edward “Punch” Andrews, and Capitol Records. 

“It’s an ongoing issue with my manager and Capitol Records. They agreed to something many years ago about new media, and they don’t want to live up to it. Until that’s resolved, we let very little out. I wish people could get any song at any time,” Seger told Rolling Stone. Three years later, Seger’s music returned to Spotify without explaining how—or if—Andrews and Capitol Records solved their dispute.

Taylor Swift

The international Queen of Pop made major waves in the music and streaming industries alike when she pulled her catalogue from Spotify in 2014. Swift explained her reasoning in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, writing, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.” 

Swift’s official Instagram fan account, Taylor Nation, announced the pop star’s return to Spotify in June 2017. According to Swift’s team, the pop star lifted her boycott to celebrate ‘1989’ selling 10 million albums worldwide and her 100 Million Song Certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. Swift’s latest albums and her re-releases of older “Taylor’s Version” records are now all available on Spotify.

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Big Machine Label Group)

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *