Posted in industry | music on October 7, 2013

by Doug Moore

Thom Yorke at the UIC Pavilion (more by James Richards IV)
Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke is well known for his general dissatisfaction with music industry pay models at this point. Radiohead helped affect a sea change in the music industry by becoming early adopters of the pay-what-you-want online sales model. Since then, Yorke and Radiohead producer/Atoms For Peace collaborator Nigel Godrich have become outspoken critics of the pay models built into online streaming services, and of Spotify in particular.

Over the summer, Yorke and Godrich both pulled their solo and Atoms For Peace material from Spotify. As ever, Yorke was good for at least one stinging quip:

"New artists get paid fuck all with this model."
Yorke and Godrich also argued that Spotify is essentially set up to benefit its shareholders, rather than the artists whose music it offers to its users, and that the service colludes with major labels in an effort to wring more profits out of their classics-rich catalogues.

The announcement set off a lengthy debate that involved such oddities as Radiohead manager Brian Message piping up to dispute Yorke and Godrich's argument.

The debate petered out for a while, but picked up again last week when Yorke gave an interview to the Mexican culture site Sopitas, in which he again disputed Spotify's sustainability in response to a question about the future of mainstream music. Yorke offered a particularly memorable analogy at the end of his response. Here's the whole thing:

"I feel like the way people are listening to music is going through this big transition. I feel like as musicians we need to fight the Spotify thing. I feel that in some ways what's happening in the mainstream is the last gasp of the old industry. Once that does finally die, which it will, something else will happen. But it's all about how we change the way we listen to music, it's all about what happens next in terms of technology, in terms of how people talk to each other about music, and a lot of it could be really fucking bad. I don't subscribe to the whole thing that a lot of people do within the music industry that's 'well this is all we've got left. we'll just have to do this.' I just don't agree.

When we did the In Rainbows thing what was most exciting was the idea you could have a direct connection between you as a musician and your audience. You cut all of it out, it's just that and that. And then all these fuckers get in the way, like Spotify suddenly trying to become the gatekeepers to the whole process. We don't need you to do it. No artist needs you to do it. We can build the shit ourselves, so fuck off. But because they're using old music, because they're using the majors... the majors are all over it because they see a way of re-selling all their old stuff for free, make a fortune, and not die. That's why to me, Spotify the whole thing, is such a massive battle, because it's about the future of all music. It's about whether we believe there's a future in music, same with the film industry, same with books.

To me this isn't the mainstream, this is is like the last fart, the last desperate fart of a dying corpse. What happens next is the important part."

You can listen to the whole interview with Yorke below. Spotify turns five years old today; if you want to celebrate, you'll have to choose someone else's music to stream from its archives.

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Comments (36)

I thought the same thing after the last Radiohead album

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:14 PM

Turn 5 what? Change "turn" to "turns" you fucking hack.

Posted by Your editor | October 7, 2013 1:15 PM

This dude is just pissed he's not getting more dough.
Spotify is great!

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:17 PM

Well if Thom Yorke says it than IT MUST BE TRUE.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:17 PM

"last desperate fart " did you say ? perfectly describes the Radiohead aesthetic.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:18 PM

damn 1:14 beat me to it

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:19 PM

damn, people will get angry about anything on bv comments.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:19 PM

I hate to burst Thom's bubble, but even if Spotify doesn't last, there will always be middle men inserting themselves into the process.

And if the In Rainbows business model was so great how come all of his subsequent releases haven't been handled the same way? It seems that experiment (now 7 years ago?!) wasn't as innovative or lasting as everyone thought.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:22 PM

his record label must cringe every time he opens his mouth about this

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:23 PM

"Orange juice son." - D 10/5/13

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:24 PM

1:19, your comment makes me angry

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:25 PM

pay what you want bandcamp is the standard for local bands and smart bands... HMMM??? AGREE???

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:31 PM

> Yorke and Godrich also argued that Spotify is essentially set up to benefit its shareholders

Yes that is how companies work

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:48 PM

I was out at lunch, so 1:14 speaks for many... that said, I wish Thom could invent a time machine and go back and not take all that money from EMI so he would never have become rich and famous enough to spout off about how much he hates the people who made (and still make) him rich and famous.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:48 PM

Thom Yorke is rich enough to buy every album in CD, vinyl, cassette, MP3, AND 8-track formats.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 1:54 PM

Thom Yorke real name is Moses Yorkezenberg.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 2:19 PM

Spotify = Good for Customer/ Bad for Artists

The Artists literally gets pennies for their songs.
I can see why any music artist would not like Spotify.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 2:50 PM

"Get off my lawn!" --Thom Yorke

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 2:50 PM

Spotify is awesome. Would he rather people use that service and pay a fee or illegally download his material? I haven't used torrent's for music in at least 3 years since getting Spotify. I discover new bands everyday, attend shows, buy t-shirts and merch and spread the word about them. Thom I'm sorry but suck a bag of dicks. Spotify is here to say. I should get a commission for he amount of people I've converted!

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 2:57 PM

114 It may not have been their best but at least they don't repeat themselves. Seeing them play those songs live was incredible. As for spotify, I have no use for it. Not interested in any service that tries to sway my opinion.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 3:42 PM

yeah, eff any artist who expects to get paid for their work - it should all be free

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 3:51 PM

If you don't own it in vinyl then you don't have it at all.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 3:57 PM

3:51, your expertly-delivered snark should be followed by a mic drop.

Love,
a fan

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 5:34 PM

no good bands in the last ten years

not one

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 7:45 PM

Thom Yorke in Capitalism is Bad SHOCKER!!

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 7:57 PM

Thom Porke speaks.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 8:11 PM

What is a 'dying corpse'?

Posted by Dan Holway | October 7, 2013 8:33 PM

He's right, you know.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 8:34 PM

He's wrong.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 11:10 PM

Thom Yorke's a Turntable.FM man, clearly.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2013 11:41 PM

I thought "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse" was the caption of that photo.

Posted by Anonymous | October 8, 2013 12:26 AM

VOLVO

Posted by Anonymous | October 8, 2013 1:27 AM

I get it. Makes sense to me. I'm fine with people getting things for free, I'm not fine with a big company making money odd it but not me. Simple.

Posted by Anonymous | October 8, 2013 12:30 PM

I feel like the way people are listening to music is going through this big transition.

Posted by HERRY | March 9, 2014 9:56 PM

thom yorke is a rich capitalist pig pulling up the drawbridge on his fat fortune. EMI piggy

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2014 5:36 AM

I wish he would have talked more about making kid a. I'm as fascinated in that as Thom was in aphex twin

Posted by Murph | October 20, 2014 1:20 PM

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