An Open Letter To Neil Young

Neil Young,

I understand your point and have for awhile now. Streaming is inferior, unjust, convoluted, and industry-degrading. As one of your most dedicated fans, especially within my age bracket, I’m imploring you to stop this ridiculous crusade.

As a teenager, I grew up with Spotify. I got an account my sophomore year of high school and have been a paid subscriber ever since. As a result, I’ve been able to access the world of music in a way I never could have. In particular, this route has been kind to my pocket book, one that shrinks daily from impending college debt and a myriad of other financial necessities.

Without Spotify, I may have never discovered my deep love of records of Lou Reed’s ‘Magic and Loss,’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Infidels,’ or Tom Waits ‘Mule Variations.’ There are countless others as well. When streaming services like Spotify provide entire catalogues, it allows people like me to immerse themselves into an artist and seek out every nook and cranny of their career. Without Spotify, I may have never found my love of Mavis Staples or Robyn Hitchcock. (Two random artists I chose out of a hat for that example since they aren’t artists a nineteen year old would typically adore.)

Like many before me, I stumbled upon your music through records like ‘Harvest’ and ‘After The Gold Rush.’ Using Spotify, however, I digged deeper into your catalogue over the years. I fell in love with records such as ‘Greendale,’ ‘Living With War,’ ‘On The Beach,’ and so many others. After I read your book, (which I devoured in about two days) I went back and listened to ‘Le Noise’ having an understanding of why you made such a peculiar, fascinating, and beautiful piece of art.

I get where you are coming from. Streaming is inferior in quality and annihilates so much of what you work hard to make in the studio, and it pays pennies on the dollar. With that said, this point you are making only hurts your fans. As that cash-strapped college kid, I now have to seek out CD’s of all your albums or buy dollar files. It’s something I’ll do, because I love your music so, but it’s something I had access to in such a wonderful way for so long already.

I have most of my favorite records of yours in first press vinyl; a slowly growing collection I’m particularly proud of. With my parent’s old surround system rigged up to a sweet little turntable, ‘Psychedelic Pill’ has never been better. You’re getting my money and admiration when I do that. I never would have bought $60 LP's like 'Psychedelic Pill' if I hadn't been introduced to your sound before.

For goodness sake, don’t take away the streaming. How else would I have learned the ins and outs of Neil Young at age sixteen? I sure didn’t have anyone to hand me a copy ‘Rust Never Sleeps.’ I may have never found my all time favorite tune! (Which is ‘Thrasher’ by the way, in case you want to keep that in mind next time you’re playing in Chicago. Hint hint. Nudge nudge.) My love of your music inspired me to become a musician myself and write my own material. 

Keep yourself available on Spotify. Let people discover your music like I did. It’s a beautiful thing that isn’t about the money or the quality. Both can and will come later when someone’s life is changed by a song like ‘Bad Fog of Loneliness.’ “Bad fog of loneliness, put a cloud on my single-mindedness.” Don’t be single-minded about streaming. It’s all about the music. In that sense, streaming is the greatest discovery tool ever.