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Thom Yorke pulls music from Spotify, calls it unfair to new artists

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Thom Yorke (Tokyo Times)
Thom Yorke (Tokyo Times)

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has never been shy about voicing his opinions on digital media, but now he's taken things a step further: he's pulled his various side projects off streaming music services altogether. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Yorke and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich took to Twitter on Sunday to announce that they were removing Yorke's solo album The Eraser, their joint project Atoms for Peace, and the debut album from Godrich's band Ultraísta from Spotify and its ilk.

Godrich wrote that streaming services are "bad for new music" in that they don't pay up-and-coming artists enough money. Yorke expressed similar sentiments, warning music consumers that any new favorites they discover on streaming services will not get paid.

The profitability of streaming music has been an ongoing concern. Streaming services have in the past blamed record labels for not delivering enough revenue into artists' hands, but according to Godrich it's more fundamental than that. "The music industry is being taken over by the back door," he wrote, "and if we don't try and make it fair for new music producers and artists then the art will suffer. Make no mistake. These are all the same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold on the delivery system... The numbers don't even add up for Spotify yet."

As of the writing of this article, the three albums in question are not available on Spotify or Rdio, though they are available for streaming via Pandora and for purchase through online storefronts like iTunes and Google Play. Radiohead's music, however, is still available for streaming leading some fans to call the move "meaningless."

Update: Spotify has responded to Yorke and Godrich's announcements, stating that it is committed to making the service the most artist-friendly possible. In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Spotify said "Right now we’re still in the early stages of a long-term project that’s already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We’ve already paid $500 million to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach $1 billion. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music."