December 3, 2015 – 3:42 pm

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In an Italian interview with newspaper La Repubblica, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke took another shot at music fans who share on the net. “People continue to say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free,” he said. “It’s not true. The creators of services make money - Google, YouTube. A huge amount of money, by trawling, like in the sea - they take everything there is. ‘Oh, sorry, was that yours? Now it’s ours. No, no, we’re joking - it’s still yours’. They’ve seized control of it - it’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War. Actually, it’s like what everyone was doing during the war, even the English - stealing the art of other countries. What difference is there?”

He went on to talk about his perception of physical music in contrast to digital music. “Recently I got out all the vinyl that I had,” he said. “Stuff collected over a lifetime… with every single vinyl there’s a relationship. Like when I’m DJing: there’s this direct contact, you have to take the disc, choose it, put it in a bag, and put the bags in the taxi and then you have to get them down, open them and so on. That relationship doesn’t exist with digital files, USB sticks. And that has a corrosive effect on how music is made.”

In 2013 Yorke labelled Spotify, the streaming service, “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse” after he and Nigel Godrich, co-creator of Yorke’s solo album ‘The Eraser’, earned “f*ck all” from the service. Discussing other Spotify critics, he noted, “When [David] Byrne sided against Spotify it was a relief for me. Finally, I’m not the only one to say ‘Hey, excuse me, it’s not fair that it works like this.’”

Since then, major multi-millionaire artistes like Taylor Swift and Adele have also restricted their music from paid streaming sites.

The flip side to Yorke’s argument is Pandora’s Box. The internet is here. It cannot be disappeared. But there are forces trying to control it. Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, says the fight against artists and corporations over copyrights is not about profits but freedom.

“We care for permissionless innovation, we care for private correspondence, we care for sharing and the legacy of knowledge and culture. We do not care in the slightest for obsolete and outdated pre-internet distribution monopolies, nor do we care for pipes that want to be privileged, and we become outright hostile when the industries that benefit from old monopolies (not stakeholders, but beneficiaries!) assert a right to dismantle the liberties that our ancestors fought, bled, and died to give to us today.”

“How will the authors get paid?”, he says, is an utterly uninteresting question in a market economy. The answer is equally utterly simple: “by making a sale”. There is no other way, and there should not be any other way. A much more relevant question today, Falkvinge says, is “how do we protect the infrastructure of liberty against corporate encroachment and imaginary privileges of pre-internet monopolies”.

Seen in this light, Falkvinge is suggesting the time has come for an end to super profits for musicians and other entertainment artistes. Just as the car made horses and owners of horses redundant as a means of transport.

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Your No B.S. comments will earn you a pass to free music.


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Contest No. 26 / Contest No. 27 /

  1. 26 Responses to “THE MORE B.S. CONTEST No. 10”

  2. The craftsman deserves a fair price for his wages. But the Internet has changed the way we determine that value. Mr. Yorke, Ms. Swift, Adele, Coldplay and others have failed to see the paradigm shift. (Adele, for now, will not have to face that reckoning day; the market spoke on her.) Streaming will pay over a lifetime and testify to the staying power of your music. How else to explain why flavors of the month would not embrace it? As to Radiohead, they had the right idea when asking their audience to pay what they saw fit for In Rainbows back in 2010. It was testament not only to how their fans valued their work but music and art in general.

    By Tony on Dec 4, 2015

  3. Things have changed a lot since the days when you bought a vinyl disc from your record store and played it on your stereogram. Music comes in so many formats these days and the ways in which that music reaches our homes is more diverse now than it ever has been. Artists have to be quick to stay in touch with changing trends and be able to maximise their sales by exploiting the best routes for them. Fans will stay loyal to their chosen heroes and ‘do the right thing’ to obtain releases but there are lots of ways to obtain music ‘by other means’ and sadly, many people take this option.

    By Daijj on Dec 5, 2015

  4. I love physical vinyls and CDs and prefer listening to them over my downloaded, burned CDRs.

    By Phil on Dec 5, 2015

  5. Why should any musician be frustrated with how communication works these days? The Internet can also work to his/her benefit. The talented can surely find a way to profit from this reality without restraining the liberty of others.

    I agree 100% with Falkvinge. Nothing about sustaining pre-internet distribution monopolies benefits society. Corporations and governments will use any excuse to destroy freedom. The interest of maintaining the Internet as a medium of free expression is infinitely more important than protecting the interests of an exclusive group of rich musicians who are nostalgic for the heyday of profits from physical media.

    By zaar locust on Dec 6, 2015

  6. I don’t really disagree with Thom - people should get paid for what they do - but yeah, it’s a shame how places like Spotify rip off artists. I imagine Bandcamp is better, but by how much I can’t say. Also, I’m not going to say I don’t download music, but for artists I like, I’ll buy a hard copy of their records.

    By Maria on Dec 7, 2015

  7. i think the industry abuses the public and takes advantage in any way they can to squeeze every penny they can out of people. this has caused people to develop a bad taste in their collective mouth and for many they have decided they would rather collect their music without paying for it. many ppl have different reasons of their own for not wanting to pay for the music they want. i feel that artists have a right to expect money for what they produce. in many if not most cases these musicians got into the industry to make a living. the expression of their feelings and whatever it is they wish to say is 2ndary. when it comes to concerts they made their money with ticket sales and items sold at the show and if they wish to sell the show itself they can do that too. but til that is done once the show has happened its free for ppl to do what they wish. and out of print recordings are also fair game.
    but everyone has his or her own reasons for why they dont wanna pay for official product. its not an excuse or acceptable explanation for this behavior but it is one that exists like it or not. some ppl just cant afford to buy music at todays prices regardless of the day. theyll do what they can to obtain the music. there are several if not many reasons ppl will get their music without paying.
    some ppl say why do these artists need to be millionaires or why do the labels or suits need to make so much on the fans? maybe people are a little sick of that too.

    By darth on Dec 7, 2015

  8. I remember the Allmans selling copies of their shows immediately after the show, at a little booth inside the venue.
    Artists need to remember that it’s free markets that can make them multi millionaires. So they need to learn to navigate it. Stop complaining Thom. True artists care about the art, right? And Nazis? Hyperbole doesn’t help your cause…

    By steve22 on Dec 8, 2015

  9. Yorke is 100% right. Since the web started, startups and venture capitalists have made untold billions by enabling people to circumvent paying for content. Whatever his “super profits” are they surely pale in comparison to the piles of cash being made by the services he’s calling out. Spotify is just a fucking jukebox and yet it’s worth 8 billion. What would it be worth without music? Yet the artists get told their music is worth nothing. Don’t defend these billionaires, they’re the new feudal lords and we’re all the serfs & peasants.

    By Old Record Guy on Dec 9, 2015

  10. Streaming is here to stay - what artists need to do is renegotiate their contracts to bring them up to date. It reminds me of the latter days of my career as a professional photographer. All of a sudden, clients were asking for rights in perpetuity throughout the universe for my images. They knew the future of content being used and re-used electronically was on the horizon and they just didn’t want to have to pay me for it again. Needless to say, I negotiated the terms to make them more fair for me. Musicians need to do the same.

    By Jeremy Shatan on Dec 10, 2015

  11. The record companies overcharged consumers for cd’s for approximately twenty years. Ha! Ha! Payback is a bitch!

    By Charva on Dec 13, 2015

  12. Sell Concert tickets if you want to make money Thom. Even before streaming, iTunes, Etc the artists did not make big money of off record sales/CD sales. He knew this when he started. Waaaaa!

    By John on Dec 14, 2015

  13. Buying a complete physical CD still is, to me, a contract between artist and fan, and by buying the physical article represents a commitment to be involved with this tangible object in a concerted effort to incorporate it into ones life rather than immediately disposing of it. Sure, it is in effect a materialistic process (the collection of another piece of plastic) but it is to me, in part, a definition of my musical persona.

    By theSplund on Dec 14, 2015

  14. Some people here seem incapable of separating the two (or three) exploitative issues involved.
    Just because you hate money-grubbing capitalist suits who make inordinate profits by creating and monopolising distribution networks does not entitle you to damn the artists who create the music.

    Very few of those artists actually make a decent living from their endeavours. But the most popular (or commercial?) - maybe one per cent of the whole - get by comfortably or rake in the shekels.

    And then there are the pathetic, sickening leeches who think the world owes them a living, and free good music, and a free education - but lack the heart, the brain and the soul to see their greed and arrogance is just a different manifestation of the rotten morality that drives those suits.

    Most of you are leeches because you lack the wit to be a suit. Deep down you are jealous of them - your piracy is your little “rebellion” against the establishment. Whoo you!

    In a perfect world there would be no exploitative scum. Genius would receive a modestly “better” reward, forests would not be destroyed to help suits increase their corrupt fortunes and shallow soulless scum who think the world owes them a living would starve to death.

    Sadly, the world is not perfect.
    Someone should write a song about that. Oh, wait…

    By (the actual) Tony on Dec 17, 2015

  15. Everything has changed. It took authors centuries to understand what the printing press meant for copyright. The record companies and music monopolies stood back from the internet for far too long, believing they could carry on business, and profits, as usual when the marketplace was changing by the day. Now they are losing out to new technologies which are driven by the user rather than the companies or the artists. TV and cinema are struggling to understand the same phenomenon, as are newspapers. How is distribution managed when a file can spread across the internet in minutes and the latest TV show appears on file sharing sites within minutes of its broadcasting? When we have paid so much for so little, is it any wonder we want it all for free?

    By Murruntani on Dec 20, 2015

  16. Back in the days of the earliest printing press there were no computer printers or photocopiers. Now that technology makes copying and distributing easier and more anonymously, the companies are getting screwed and artists are getting MORE screwed! The problem is that everything is so expensive that we feel ripped off by labels all these years

    By Walter on Dec 23, 2015

  17. The technology changes but artists still need an audience & the audience still craves art. Fortunately, the technology is making it more & more possible for direct distribution to cut out the dreaded middleman. Hopefully we can reach a point where the artists are paid a fair price for their work & the audience can obtain their art at an equally fair price. Selfishness on either side ultimately serves no one.

    By tajackson on Dec 26, 2015

  18. Artists have always had to sell their art to make a living. It does not matter if you are talking Picasso or Springsteen. If the artist cannot live off their art then they would have to give up their art and become garbage men or CEO’s or shoe salesmen. Part of the question is how little the artist makes compared to what the record companies earn. Remember, the Beatles were making less than a cent per record sold on their original contract. I recently bought some old CD’s for $5 dollars each and that is the price they should have cost when new. I download some free music because I have been way overcharged by the record companies for decades. I do buy the CD’s of the bands I really like and I go to concerts when I can. Part of the solution may be for some of the superstars to band together and take a stand on behalf of all artists to obtain a fair royalty rate and for the art to be obtained at a fair cost.

    By Macksster on Jan 1, 2016

  19. If an artist I like, follow and collect releases a new Album [not vinyls] I will buy the LP. {LP=long play} release. If there an Import with additional content that’s my first priority. I usually don’ purchase the singles and there I miss as the cool and odd songs are! I just can’t afford it all. Spotify, Pandora, iTunes or whomever will never pay the artists their due amount as that’d cut in on the bottom line.
    ROIO’s, live performances and outtakes and rehearsal tape are GOLDEN to me. This is where The BIG O has made me a better music fan. I haven’t slowed down my consumption of new music, it’s just that there’s very little worthwhile of it being released. Write and release more GOOD NEW MUSIC and the piracy problem won’t be as big a concern. Didn’t The Beatles release a dozen full length LP’s in less than a decade?

    By John PMcNea III on Jan 29, 2016

  20. All of this new access is creating more free music,but not easier ways to make a living. Artists seem to make the least and labels and now, itunes make too much.

    I thinks this is why concert tickets cost so much. Seems the only way artists make real money is touring

    By John on Mar 6, 2016

  21. tom, all your points are valid, but artists, major and minor alike, screwed fans for decades, putting tracks only on reissues of albums already purchased, overcharging, only promoting thru major chains (when did radiohead ever go to a indie record shop and do a signing?) and a myriad of other ways to extract every last cent from fans, now the boot is on the other foot, you complain. it’s karma, sad but that’s life

    By Liam NSW on Sep 9, 2016

  22. Anyone using comparison with the nazis in his demonstration can’t hope to be taken seriously. If you want an alternate solution for artists to present their music to their fans without the use of corporate labels, try what Amanda Palmer is doing with Patreon.

    By mrbelette on Dec 11, 2016

  23. The toothpaste is out of the tube, and can’t be forced back in. Musicians today rely largely on live performances and miscellaneous merchandise in order to pay the bills. Recorded music is no longer a captured commodity, and largely now used to promote said live performances.

    We’re coming full circle towards the early days of popular music…

    By BGS on Jun 12, 2018

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