Thom Yorke is an outspoken critic of the digital music business, but in a new interview he goes even further, comparing the likes of Google and YouTube to the Nazis.
“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 they don’t get a profit out of it, it’s not fair.”
Yorke, who once described Spotify as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”, said that services like Google and YouTube were stealing art in the same way the Nazis looted collections during the Second World War:
“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?”
While YouTube continues to be a huge source of music, especially for younger listeners, recently major stars like Adele and Taylor Swift have kept their music off Spotify, despite the streaming service saying that it pays “nearly 70 per cent of revenue back to the music community”.
Yorke, who has happily admitted that he’s a “luddite”, also said that he preferred physical products like vinyl over digital:
“Recently I got out all the vinyl that I had. 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.”
If you were looking for an update on the new Radiohead album that’s in the works, you’ll have to keep waiting.