Radiohead front man Thom Yorke slammed Spotify on Twitter Sunday and then pulled his solo work and the music of his band Atoms For Peace from the service.
His beef has to do with the fact that new artists on the service can barely make ends meet, and Yorke’s not the first person in the music industry to say so.
Yorke tweeted, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will [not] get paid. meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples.”
He garnered a variety of responses from followers, including some who said he was hurting his fans.
Katy Otto replied, “@thomyorke Thank you for saying this. I have a small, indie label, and it is the worst. I try not to use unless bands want it.”
People like Ben Moroney, on the other hand, asked, “Fair point but what about the artists I’ve discovered & bought vinyl/mp3s from, attended gigs of etc? Isn’t that a good thing?”
After pulling the music he tweeted Monday, “for me In Rainbows was a statement of trust. people still value new music ... that's all we'd like from Spotify. don't make us the target.”
By "us" he means himself and producer Nigel Godrich. In a series of quick-fire tweets Sunday, Godrich, who has produced albums from Radiohead and Paul McCartney, broke down his feelings on Spotify:
"It's bad for new music. The reason is that new artists get paid f--- all with this model. 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."
“Meanwhile small labels and new artists can't even keep their lights on. It's just not right,” he added, “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.”
When Pink Floyd’s back catalogue became available on Spotify last month their users streamed Wish You Were Here more than one million times.
"Making new recorded music needs funding,” Godrich argued. "Some records can be made in a laptop, but some need musician[s] and skilled technicians. Pink Floyd's 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 [of the Moon, Pink Floyd's record-breaking album released that year which sold hundreds of millions of copies] would have been made. It would just be too expensive."
The Guardian reported that many other artists, including Four Tet, also had all their music taken off Spotify. Four Tet's Kieran Hebden tweeted, "I had everything on my label taken off. Don't want to be part of this crap,” adding, "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."
Spotify said Yorke's music can still be stream on Youtube. In a statement they said, "Spotify's goal is to grow a service which people love, ultimately want to pay for [unlimited streaming requires a paid subscription], and which will provide the financial support to the music industry necessary to invest in new talent and music."
What about Yorke's fans? Do you think Yorke was accusing them of being complicit in starving new artists? And what about Spotify users who go out and buy the albums from new artists after they learned about them on the service? Are they hurting new music, too?