Former Mumford & Sons star Winston Marshall has shredded the music artists who have pulled their music from Spotify in protest of the company not removing podcast star Joe Rogan.
Neil Young and Joni Mitchell were among the first to remove their catalogs, dealing a crushing blow to elevator music fans.
And Marshall ha argued that this type of desire for censorship harkens back to the Soviet Union in a piece he penned on Substack.
“In 1984, of all years, rock bands in the Soviet Union were in a panic. The Ministry of Culture had decreed that, for these groups to keep performing and touring in the USSR, they would have to show that 80 percent of the songs in their live sets were not their own, but written by someone from the state-sanctioned Union of Composers,” he said in his piece.
“This crackdown was part of a Kremlin campaign to push back against what it viewed as the dangers of rock n’ roll—a Western concoction that turned young people against adults and made otherwise normal, law-abiding citizens question authority,” he said.
“The Soviet Union is long gone, but the impulse hasn’t died,” he argued. “More recently, Vladimir Putin’s subordinates smeared Viktor Tsoi, the Bob Dylan of the Soviet Union, claiming that Tsoi’s lyrics had been written by Americans seeking to destroy the Motherland. (For the full history of rock music in the Soviet Union read “BACK in the USSR: The True Story of Rock in Russia,” by Artemy Troitsky. It wasn’t long before Troitsky himself, a Muscovite rock critic, found himself banned like the blacklisted musicians he was writing about.) “
Marhsall, who quit Mumford & Sons last year after he praised a right wing reporter, went on to decry the attacks on Rogan.
He said that it was no longer top down censorship that was the concern but more about artists wanting to censor other artists.
“But in 2022, the censors are not in charge of governments. Something resembling a bottom-up authoritarianism has become the norm. Or perhaps one could call it lateral censorship. It’s artists shutting down other artists—or trying to,” the banjo player said.
“Last week, Canadian-American rock god Neil Young made a clarion call against free speech. Displeased by The Joe Rogan Experience’s Covidian contents, Young demanded that Spotify remove Rogan’s podcast—or remove him. Days later, Young’s music was off the platform, though you can still stream his songs on Apple (ignore their forced Uyghur labor in Xinjiang) and on Amazon (but don’t read about the company’s infamous working conditions in James Bloodworth’s book “Hired.”)
“Keep on rocking in the free world, Neil,” he said.
It was not only Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, but other artists you likely never heard of, who removed their music. They included Nils Lofgren, Graham Nash, India Arie, David Crosby and Stephen Stills.