Updated: After Spotify released their response to Godrich’s statements on the streaming service, the musician has once again fired back at the digital music service company. Read his comments 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.”
Thom Yorke and the folks at camp Radiohead are no strangers to questioning the music industry’s status quo. At the release of 2007’s In Rainbows, Radiohead threw all previous expectations out the window and helped herald the pay-what-you-want album release. The album spearheaded a movement for internet releases, and now Thom Yorke and longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich are in the process of pulling Atoms for Peace’s Amok and their respective solo albums from Spotify in “an act of meaningless rebellion.”
“Someone gotta say something,” Godrich stated on Twitter. “It’s bad for new music. 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,” Godrich continued. So in turn, Eraser, Ultraísta and Amok have been pulled from Spotify, mostly in efforts to spark a conversation about this new business model.
“We’re standing up for our fellow musicians” Yorke said on Twitter. ”In Rainbows was a statement of trust. People still value new music, that’s all we’d like from Spotify.” Godrich’s Twitter rant states that while the Spotify model may work for artists with a “massive catalogue”, but “if people had been listening to Spotify instead of buying records in 1973, I doubt very much if [Dark Side of the Moon] would have been made.” Streaming works for catalogs, but Yorke and Godrich state the model doesn’t help float new musicians. “I had everything on my label taken off” said Kieran Hebden of Four Tet, “Don’t want to be a part of this crap.”
According to MusicWeek, a spokesperson for Spotify has responded to the duo, stating:
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.
Yorke has also been letting loose recently about things that aren’t Spotify related. The Radiohead frontman was recently interviewed by Daniel Craig in Interview and the two spoke at length about everything from getting drunk with U2 to Yorke’s disenchantment with his notorious rockstar status. Atoms for Peace recently kicked off their world tour this month, the band will be stopping through North America in September.