In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Thom Yorke spoke at length about the challenges facing musicians in the era of free music. Many of his comments were directed specifically at YouTube, which he skips over (“I definitely don’t use YouTube,” he says) in favor of paid services like Boomkat.
His argument against the service is that through opening reel ads, the company makes a ton of money, while artists are left receiving hardly any commission. When asked about AdBlocker, which users can employ to avoid ads, he said, “The funny thing is that YouTube has said ‘that’s not fair’. 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 removed his solo music from Spotify two years ago, makes a good point. Later in his comments though he overshadowed his central argument with an inflammatory Yorke-ism. The Radiohead frontman compared Youtube to Nazi Germany saying, “People continue to say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free. 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?”
More of his interview can be read over at La Repubblica.