Since her rise to fame in the 1960s, Joni Mitchell has completely redefined the folk music genre and has made a name for herself as one of the most talented singer-songwriters in recent history. The Canadian-American artist got her start playing at small nightclubs and folk festivals. Mitchell became incredibly popular following the release of her 1971 album Blue, which some regard as among the most influential albums of the 20th century.

As a part of the folk genre’s revival and rebirth in the 60s, Joni Mitchell’s music and fanbase grew alongside a social and political explosion in the United States. As a result, Mitchell, like many of her contemporaries, made activism a pillar of her career and a central part of her public identity. A pioneer for women in the music industry, Mitchell has always claimed full control over her own music and still holds the publishing rights to her songs today. Joni Mitchell’s influence has transcended the folk revival and she continues to inspire female musicians such as Madonna and Taylor Swift.

In 2022, the extent of Joni Mitchell’s activism was thrust into the spotlight. Along with her lifelong friend, Neil Young, Mitchell removed all her music from Spotify. She made this decision to protest the influx of COVID-19 misinformation on far-right podcasts that Spotify profited from. Specifically, Mitchell, Young, and many others were upset by The Joe Rogan Experience, a conservative podcast that could only be found on Spotify. Rogan frequently hosted guest speakers on his show, several of whom spread false information about COVID-19 and the vaccine. At a pivotal point in the pandemic, Mitchell felt that Spotify was knowingly profiting off of dangerous rhetoric that would cost people their lives. For this reason, Mitchell removed her music from the platform on January 28, 2022.

Two years later, on March 22, 2024, Joni Mitchell returned her music to Spotify unannounced. Again, this action followed Neil Young, who elaborated that while Rogan’s podcast was once exclusive to Spotify, it had now spread to other platforms like Apple Music and Amazon. Although Young objects to this expansion, he recognizes that protesting Spotify is not as meaningful in light of this change. Joni Mitchell has not put out an official statement announcing her return to the music streaming platform, but given her close alliance with Neil Young, it is plausible she feels similarly.

Joni Mitchell’s fans have excitedly welcomed her return to Spotify, but her illustrious career is otherwise coming to an end. Now 80 years old, Mitchell’s health has been precarious, and she suffered an aneurysm in 2015. Despite this, Mitchell has continued to perform occasionally, most recently performing at the 2024 Grammy Awards Show. Even though the height of her career has passed, Mitchell’s legacy and the values she stands for are embedded into this country's musical and social history. Joni Mitchell will continue to have an influential presence in the music industry for years to come.