Feature: The Hypocrisy of Thom Yorke.

That’s right, I’m doing it. I’m going to take a pop at a man who has made me weep, broadened my musical horizons and created an album that sits on a personal pedestal for me that has never since been topped. But on this occasion big Thom is just plain wrong.

If you are unaware of recent happenings, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has decided to pull his solo material and Atoms For Peace tracks from Spotify. The justification for this move was tweeted by Yorke’s long time collaborator Nigel Godrich who feels that the streaming model of the site is flawed.

Both these statements and a few others were re-tweeted by Thom to much furious head-nodding from the adoring faithful who want to best echo the sentiments of a figure that many idolise as a Demi-God. To say I had never once acted the same with a musician I particularly admired would be a lie. I’ve justified some completely heinous quotes from Stephen Patrick Morrissey in the past which are frankly embarrassing and stupid. However the issue here is not that I don’t agree with the statements shared by Thom.

Spotify’s current system may be an ‘equation that just doesn’t work’ but it’s an equation that he helped write! I genuinely want to rub my eyes in cartoon-fashion and then look again at these statements to properly exemplify how cheeky I think this is.

To say I wasn’t aware of sites such as Limewire and Kazaa before 2007 would be spinning you a yarn. Even in my most avid stage of CD collection there was still the occasional album that I bought that I wish I had downloaded a low-bit version of beforehand and saved myself the trouble of having the disc soil my music shelf (Shitdisco, anyone?). But 2007’s In Rainbows completely changed the game, it blew the music industry into territory it probably wasn’t even ready to go. Here was an album released completely digitally that you could pay your own price for, it was a revolutionary step that accepted that people will download their music and this is something that won’t go away.

The musical equivalent of 'RyanAir' shifting you to Barcelona for a tenner.

The musical equivalent of ‘RyanAir shifting you to Barcelona for a tenner’

Now, here is the difficult part for me (sweaty palms and a shameful look at my feet at the ready). A band that command as much gravitas and loyalty from their fans will expect that many of them will have entered a reasonable amount for the privilege of getting to hear Radiohead’s music. But some of us…didn’t pay a dime for it. Some of us entered a big fat £0.00 on the payment screen and were shocked to see that the download still went ahead anyway. This isn’t because we’re ‘bad fans’ or we don’t appreciate the music, it’s because after scouring HMV, ploughing money into iTunes and paying out for gigs since I was old enough to care, it felt good to get a freebie.

With In Rainbows, ‘head completely took the bottom out of the market and created a culture that we now expect our favourite bands and artists to release, at least, some music for free. If they don’t, well we know exactly where to look to get it anyway. It’s a huge ‘fuck you’ to the record industry but it’s about the evolution of our relationship with music. The public may not buy the records anymore, but they will share your band with a friend, they will buy your t-shirt, they will come to see your show and (if recent figures are accurate) they will buy a commemorative vinyl because they really enjoyed the artwork. Spotify is not the enemy, it’s just a reflection of the times.

The cheek of Thom Yorke to complain about the fact new bands make no money from their records anymore requires balls of steel that could put Zack Snyder’s Superman to shame. Thom’s justification of this was summed up in his final tweet on the subject:

Absolute dross.


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