Yorke says that the business models that allow YouTube and its parent company Google to prosper are damaging artists.
Yorke, who once described Spotify as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”, has been consistently outspoken on musicians’ relationships to the music industry. Speaking to La Repubblica at the weekend, he lambasted the ethical stances of YouTube and its parent company Google.
Thom Yorke attacked YouTube and Google in a new interview
“I don’t have the solution to these problems,” he vented. “I only know that they’re making money with the work of loads of artists who don’t get any benefit from it.”
Yorke famously tried to break the industry mould by inviting fans to pay however much they liked for Radiohead’s 2007 album In Rainbows, and made his latest solo album Tomorrow's Modern Boxes available independently via BitTorrent with the same ends in mind. “People continue to say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free,” he continued. “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?”
Elsewhere in the interview, the 47 year old singer insisted that he doesn’t use YouTube to discover new music, using small site BoomKat to do so. “A friend of mine told me about this app to skip commercials on YouTube… They put advertising before any content, making a lot of money and yet, artists are not paid or are paid small sums, and apparently this is fine for them [YouTube].”
“The funny thing is that YouTube has said ‘that’s not fair’ [to AdBlocker]. You know? They say it’s not fair – the people who put adverts in front of any piece of content, making a load of money, while artists don’t get paid or are paid laughable amounts – and that seems fine to them. But if [YouTube] don’t get a profit out of it, it’s not fair.”
Yorke and his colleagues are currently working on the new Radiohead album, which has been in the recording stages for more than a year. It will be the first since 2011’s The King of Limbs.