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Thom Yorke likens YouTube to Nazis

By | Published on Tuesday 1 December 2015

Thom Yorke

Godwin’s Law states that any argument online will eventually lead to someone being compared to the Nazis. It doesn’t have to be online though. Thom Yorke just said it out loud about YouTube.

Asked which revenue stream is the most profitable for modern musicians, Yorke told La Repubblica: “I don’t know, you tell me. I do not have the solution to these problems. All I know is that [tech companies] make money with the work of many artists who do not derive any benefit”.

He continued: “They continue to say that this is a time when music is free, film is free. It’s not true. Service providers make money. Google. YouTube. A lot of money, like trawling the ocean, taking everything. ‘Oh, sorry, this was yours? Now it’s ours. No, no, we’re joking, it was always yours’. Our work has been seized. It’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War. Indeed, they all did it during the war, the British also: steal the art from other countries. What’s the difference?”

He added that, although he doesn’t use YouTube himself, he’s a fan of people using ad blockers to remove pre-roll adverts from videos on the site, because then no one earns any money from the content.

Of course, Yorke isn’t entirely against online music. He notes in the interview that he uses Boomkat for music discovery, and experimented with releasing his last solo album, ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’, through BitTorrent – with those who downloaded the files having to pay a fee to unlock the full release. There were many bold claims about how much money he might have made from that project at the time. But was the experiment successful, asked the interviewer?

“No, not exactly”, he said. “But, in fact, I wanted it to be an experiment. It was a reaction to everything that was going on. At the time, people were only talking about Spotify [as the future of music]. I wanted to show that in theory you can retain control of the entire chain of record production, from start to finish, yourself. In practice it is very different. We can’t take on all responsibility for this [as artists]. But I’m glad I tried”.