Thom Yorke Removes His Songs From Spotify: Updated

"New artists get paid f*** all with this model," tweeted the singer and Nigel Godrich.

Radiohead singer Thom Yorke has pulled his music from streaming service Spotify. The musician, currently having what seems to be a whole heap of ravey fun with his other project, Atoms For Peace, took to Twitter along with his bandmate and super-producer Nigel Godrich. Nigel, also known as the sixth member of Radiohead, broke the news that the entire Atoms For Peace catalogue would not be available on the site.

Later, Nigel explained why he'd done it.

As did Thom.

Accused of hurting the fans, Yorke tweeted that he was standing up for musicians.

And when someone pointed out that Radiohead had released the In Rainbows album virtually for free—the band asked the fans to pay what they thought it was worth—this was Yorke's response.



Update: Yesterday Now This News released a video about the dust-up:

And Spotify later released a statement regarding the issue.

""Spotify's goal is to grow a service which people love, ultimately want to pay for, and which will provide the financial support to the music industry necessary to invest in new talent and music. We want to help artists connect with their fans, find new audiences, grow their fan base and make a living from the music we all love.

"Right now we're still in the early stages of a long-term project that's already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We've already paid US$500M to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US$1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music.

"We're 100% committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible, and are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers."

[Image: Flickr user Tokyo Times]

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16 Comments

  • Louise

    Thank you Tom Yorke. You are drawing attention to a critical issue that most musicians do not have the power to publicize. Artist revenues have plummeted thanks to streaming, which pays approximately the same as illegal downloading. Zillch. Legislation needs to be passed so that musicians can benefit from their art - it isn't easy to make albums independently and fat shareholders who sit on their arses should share revenues fairly. Come on ASCAP/ BMI/ musicians union. You are paid to advocate for artists. Let's get this done. And I urge all artists with the power to join Tom Yorke's little rebellion to do so. PR one of the only weapons against big money these days. 

  • ed

    Looks like I'll have to dust off my iTunes account and buy atoms for peace properly then. Ah well.

  • Josh Kruk

    Why is it that established artists who have already made their money take this stand?  You rarely see new up and coming ones turn down the opportunity to get new ears to their music, something that Thom Yorke really doesn't need.  Radiohead gave away an album essentially for free, I wonder what that did for people's perception of the value of recorded music.  

  • sandramardin

    Because if new and unknown artists did it no one would care. They basically would have no choice, since if they opted out of Spotify they would have even less chance of ever becoming well known. Thom Yorke has nothing to lose and is in a far better position to take this stand.

  • Sinareo

    Thom and Nigel are bringing light to the fact that new and emerging artists aren't benefitting from the Spotify business model, who are the only ones profiting from the musician's art. The problem is that these new artists don't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to protesting such business plans (if a slew of new artists were to say "we're not going to take this anymore", Spotify and others would easily pass on them and just find different ways to profit without them, without giving much thought about it), but having a prominent band such as Radiohead, who has an established career and following, speak out about such a thing brings awareness to what is going on and has more of an impact, which is evident by FC and others writing about it, and by people discussing it; that wouldn't have happened otherwise. If your local band attempted this, nobody would even care.

  • Josh Kruk

    Fair but they don't offer an alternative.  It's no coincidence that overall global music sales rose for the first time since 1999, and in that growth, streaming services showed 44%.  

  • Josh Kruk

     I follow you and agree to an extent.  I'm not sure it's fair to say indie musicians aren't on board.  I spoke to the metal band The Chariot after one of their shows and they said they are pro Spotify. So both our examples are anecdotal.  Point is, I'd wager it's divisive at best.  

    My ultimate point is that this is a consumer based industry and the consumers have chosen to use streaming services, as is indicated by the growth in users.  Bands should be responding to their consumers.  I agree the cut isn't fair but there are other things that it brings to the table, as has been discussed, particularly in the famous "Lefsetz Letter" that I encourage everyone who is following this debate to read.  The consumer should not have to suffer.  Yorke's only real solution was "pay more." That's nebulous at best. Plenty of big artists have stuck around and found ways to use the services. Vampire Weekend and Taylor Swift both let their new albums sell for about a month and then put it on streaming services.  Point of that is that artists are making it work because they know some fans choose to consume media that way.  What got the music industry in trouble in the first place was the labels failure to respond to industry trends. 

  • Kasie Kyle

    Josh, he does offer a solution: for Spotify to rightfully pay the Artists that make up it's database.  I'm sorry, but Spotify doesn't have a leg to stand on if it doesn't have any music to stream. And honestly Musicians are the ones who are putting all of the work into creating music, why should Spotify reap the benefits? All of this is not to say that all the blame should be put on Spotify, but rather the industry in general really must re-think and re-work how it should sell music and how to combat societies notion that since Music is Art everyone should be able to Enjoy it for Free... We live in times where the average person listens to 17 hours of music per week.  Yet most people will go to on average 5 concerts in their lifetime.  In my mind I see this and think that some people just don't appreciate music as a form of art... As with any "movement" we can't expect policies and procedures to change unless we first change our ways of thinking. And we can't change our ways of thinking without first being made aware that our current way of thinking is Flawed. I think that Thom taking a stand against Spotify is just one way that more and more people are being made aware that our current thinking about Musicians and the music industry is flawed.... And to reply to your first argument, it isn't just the big artists who are taking this stand.  I have many friends who are musicians that refuse to put their music on Spotify, or other streaming sites for the sheer morality of it.  It's just the big artists that Journalists choose to write articles about. Sorry for the lengthy reply, I understand your arguments and would imagine that you care deeply about the music industry.  I hope that I offered a little bit more insight for you.   

  • Sinareo

    And who benefitted from those sales? Doesn't sound like the artists. But that's been the case for ages, and bands have always profited more from live performances, where they receive a bigger cut, than off album sales, which benefits the record companies and distributers.

  • Grant Stephen

    Completely consistent. They were upset by a system that doesn't value music both times.

    Since Yorke doesn't need the money or name spreading, he's simply calling awareness that small bands don't get enough help fro the spotify system.

    Pretty simple to understand.

  • Josh Kruk

    Right but he offers no new model. The new artists are the ones who are grinding away.  Without offering them an alternative, he's basically just grandstanding.  If he wants to be an example, then actually be one and have a suggestion. 

  • Josh Kruk

     they could only afford the "pay what you want" model because they were already a big established band.   Artists can only control their reactions to the tenets of their industry.  Spotify's numbers are on the rise and it should be considered an arrow in a bigger quiver for artists.   If you google the "Lefsetz Letter" indie label Element 9 reported that their web traffic tripled after releasing an album to spotify.  That has value 

  • Grace

    They helped bring a pay-what-you-want model to a much larger scale and feasibility when they released In Rainbows, a model which has been carried by individual artists and by pro-artist delivery platforms such as Bandcamp. Every action has ripples. If big artists don't take a stand, little ones don't stand a chance.

  • djkm

    Yes, but if you're on a subscription service, you're unlikely to actually go off and buy it though, are you? and if you're a small band, then it's also as unlikely that the usual argument (yeah, the music is your advert, and you can monetise yourselves through touring!) is just as impossible - you're going to tour the globe on the basis that a bunch of people have listened to you on spotify and may want to come see you?

  • Josh Kruk

    Well maybe, Spotify is trackable.  Touring is where the real money is anyways, that's been proven.  Element 9 records reported that their web traffic and discussion tripled after a release on Spotify:  http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/i....  Plus it reduced piracy.  

    I guess my point is, as I put in the reply above, Yorke and Godon simply stated that their needs to be a new model, but offered new bands no real alternative route.  The traditional approach is what's left when you take away streaming services, and that's a model that has only shown growth once since 1999.