We awoke to two interesting stories regarding Thom Yorke this morning, which isn't a bad way to start the week, especially considering the nature of the respective news stories.
Firstly, it appears Yorke (like many musicians) isn't a huge fan of Spotify. The news broke when Radiohead producer / Atome For Peace member Nigel Godrich announce on Twitter, "Anyway. Here's one. We're off of spotify.. Can't do that no more man.. Small meaningless rebellion… Someone gotta say something. It's bad for new music.."
This means that you'll no longer be able to find The Eraser (Thom Yorke), Amok (Atoms For Peace) and Ultraísta (Ultraísta). Radiohead's back catalog hasn't been pulled... yet.
Godrich gave the following reasons for the decision:
"The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model.. It's an equation that just doesn't work. The music industry is being taken over by the back door and if we don't try and make it fair for new music producers and artists then the art will suffer. Make no mistake. These are all the same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold on the delivery system. 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. Plus people are scared to speak up or not take part as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don't play ball. Meanwhile Millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars.. Not like radio at all.. Anyway. Thems the breaks. Opinions welcome.. but discussion and new thinking necessary.. If you have a massive catalogue – a major label… for example.. then you're quids in. It's money for old rope.. But making new recorded music needs funding.. Some records can be made in a laptop, but some need musician and skilled technicians.. These things cost money.. Pink floyds catalogue has already generated billions of dollars for someone (not necessarily the band) so now putting it on a streaming site makes total sense.. But if people had been listening to spotify instead of buying records in 1973… I doubt very much if dark side would have been made.. It would just be too expensive… I think the point is – that streaming suits catalogue.. But cannot work as a way of 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. They have no power without new music.."
Update: Spotify have responded to Thom Yorke's decision to pull his music from the service. A company spokesperson had this to say when speaking with Music Week:
"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," a company spokesperson said today.
"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."
Update: Nigel Godrich has responded to Spotify's statement. Check it out below.
So Spotify say they have generated $500 million dollars for 'license holders". The way that Spotify works is that the money is divided up by percentage of total streams. Big labels have massive back catalogues so their 40-year-old record by a dead artist earns them the same slice of the pie as a brand new track by a new artist. The big labels did secret deals with Spotify and the like in return for favourable royalty rates. The massive amount of catalogue being streamed guarantees that they get the big massive slice of the pie (that $500 million) and the smaller producers and labels get pittance for their comparatively few streams.
This is what's wrong. Catalogue and new music cannot be lumped in together. The model massively favours the larger companies with big catalogues. They need the new artists to be on the system to guarantee new subscribers and lock down the "new landscape." This is how they figure they'll make money in the future. But the model pays pittance to the new artist right now. An inconvenient fact which will keep coming up. I feel a responsibility to speak up when I see something going on which I think is unfair. I'm not bitching about not getting paid. It's about standing up for other artists' rights. It's up to streaming providers to come back with a better way of supporting new music producers. It's not for us to think up how it could work. That's your department.
The other side of our Thom Yorke double-header today is the news that Interview Magazine managed to get Daniel Craig (yes, James Bond) to interview the Radiohead frontman.
They touch on topics such as starting a new band ("it's an odd situation to just sort of start again without the big Radiohead flag"), and the origins of Radiohead.
Despite starting the interview with "I've never interviewed anyone before, so if I ask anything stupid, then just tell me to fuck off," this is a pretty interesting read (do so by heading here).