UPDATED: Radiohead's Thom Yorke Slams Spotify, Withdraws His Music; Spotify Reacts

2:41 AM PST 07/15/2013 by Shirley Halperin, Stuart Kemp
Thom Yorke.

The Radiohead frontman, producer Nigel Godrich and Fourtet all pulled their music from the service, saying its model doesn't compensate emerging bands and musicians enough.

LONDON – Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich have said via Twitter that they would be pulling the album AMOK by collaborative project Atoms for Peace, as well as Yorke's solo release The Eraser, from streaming service Spotify.

Godrich, whose production credits include albums for Radiohead and Paul McCartney, described the decision as a "small meaningless rebellion."

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But both he and Yorke railed against Spotify's royalty payment methods, saying that the sums are so minimal, "new artists get paid f--- all with this model."

Said Yorke in one tweet: "Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples."

Four Tet, the stage name for post rock and electronic act Kieran Hebden, chimed in, saying he had withdrawn everything on his label from the streaming service, as he didn't "want to be part of this crap."

Godrich argued, "The numbers don't even add up for Spotify yet. But it's not about that. It's about establishing the model, which will be extremely valuable. Meanwhile small labels and new artists can't even keep their lights on. It's just not right."

Godrich’s band Ultraista also removed its self-titled album from the streaming service. 

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Yorke declared that they are "standing up for our fellow musicians,” most of whom suffer from streaming's current scale. As David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven pointed out in a June blog post, his song got played on Pandora more than 1 million times, for which he said he received just over $16.

Pandora's business model is different from Spotify's in that the former acts as an Internet radio service while the latter focuses on a la carte play, but both have one thing in common: They force musicians to accept negligible royalties for digital listening.  

Another gripe often cited by artists: Streaming services fail to monetize ancillary opportunities like ticket and merchandise sales, as well as provide key information like tour dates and Twitter handles. 

Godrich said that while "streaming suits [back] catalog," it simply cannot work in supporting new artists' work.

"Spotify and the like either have to address that fact and change the model for new releases or else all new music producers should be bold and vote with their feet. [Streaming services] have no power without new music," Godrich tweeted.

Spotify offers a limited free streaming service and an unlimited service at tiers of $7.55 (£5) and $15 (£10) a month.

But some artists have complained that it is less effective for them to make music available there than to sell CDs and digital downloads, because the per-stream payments are comparatively tiny.

Radiohead, for which Yorke is the frontman, made history in 2007 with the self-release of the album In Rainbows by selling it as a download via a pay-what-you-want model, followed by a standard CD release a few weeks later. Reports noted that while most people paid nothing for the download, pre-release orders of the disc box release topped 100,000.

The industry average offers slightly less than 0.6 cents a stream, meaning that one million streams of a song would generate about $5,700.

Godrich said the move was not about garnering more money for himself or Yorke but to help emerging artists make it.

Yorke, noting some dissent in the Twittersphere, added: "'Your small meaningless rebellion is only hurting your fans...a drop in the bucket really.' No, we're standing up for our fellow musicians."

Four Tet also said: "I don't get why [it's] such a big deal to not do Spotify. My music [is] easy to get elsewhere. I'm just not into it."

Other high-profile artists whose music is conspicous by its absence on Spotify include the Beatles and rockers AC/DC, while Led Zeppelin has long declined to put tunes on streaming services.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took to Twitter to defend the company's business model.

Streaming "is now a very big revenue source" in some markets and shows no evidence of cannibalizing purchases, he said.


Ek also noted that new releases by Daft Punk and Jay-Z sold well after being available as pre-release streams.

According to Billboard magazine, sales of Daft Punk's Random Access Memories were "undoubtedly helped" by the preorders that resulted from its pre-release streaming at iTunes.

The album was not made available to Spotify or other subscription services ahead of street date.


In its public statement, Spotify emphasized its goal of building a service that provides financial support to the music industry. "We've already paid $500 million to rights holders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach $1 billion."

The statement said the company remains 100 percent 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."

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