Winston Marshall is best known for quitting the band Mumford & Sons after refusing to backtrack on his ideology. The British musician was dragged in 2021 for endorsing a book authored by Andy Ngo called, “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy,” then refusing to apologize for it. Eventually, the backlash got so bad he quit the band.
Now Marshall is sharing even more opinions that deviate from the mainstream. The 34-year-old banjo player shared an open essay on Substack this week detailing his thoughts on the Joe Rogan/Spotify controversy plus commenting on all the musicians leaving the platform because of it. He cautioned that this type of groupthink turned performers into “Soviet drones” who were only allowed to think one way.
The title of the essay was “When Artists Become the Censors.” The piece called out Neil Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, and India Arie for removing their music from Spotify in protest of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He also mentioned fellow Brit Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle.
“Of course, Spotify is a private company; they’re under no obligation to platform anybody. So while this campaign doesn’t breach Rogan’s First Amendment rights, it is a clear stand against the cultural norm of free speech,” he wrote.
“And those standing passionately against speech – a growing list that includes Joni Mitchell, Harry and Megan, the comedian Stewart Lee, the singer India Arie, and Young’s old bandmates, Crosby, Stills and Nash – are all apparently liberals. Strange, that.”
Marshall continued, “How can any artist possibly create without free speech? How are they supposed to be artists if they’re scared that making a mistake or taking a risk that another artist doesn’t like will get them kicked off the very platform that allows them to share their art in the first place?”
Next, the artist referenced his departure from Mumford & Sons and explained why he had to leave.
“I could have stayed in the band. But it would’ve meant self-censorship. Or lying. So I left,” he shared.
“All communities are prone to a degree of homogeneity,” the musician continued. “That’s forgivable, but not good. The music industry is no exception. With each new year and each new divisive issue, the creative industries quickly settle into a new orthodoxy. Oddly, that groupthink is often pro-establishment.”
Finally, Marshall compared the current climate to Soviet censorship.
“Under this sort of pressure, who can be surprised that artists are acting less like artists – the way they imagine themselves, anyway – and more like, well, Soviet drones? If artists at the top of their game face this kind of pressure, who can imagine what it’s like for those who dare to think differently and have far fewer resources and far less security?”
The banjo player concluded his essay by criticizing the White House for encouraging censorship on Spotify. This likely took aim at White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s comment on how “there’s more that can be done” to combat “misinformation” beyond adding a content warning to Rogan’s podcast.
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