In a new essay posted to his website, musician Neil Young called out major tech companies such as Google for linking to piracy websites and thus depriving musicians of income, and wondered how the next generation of musicians will survive.
In his post, Young begins talking about his 1996 album Broken Arrow, and how the lyrics for the song “Music Arcade” made him reflect on his earlier successes, which he’s not sure can be attained by musicians nowadays. “Today, in the age of FaceBook [sic] GOOGLE and Amazon,” he writes, “it’s hard to tell how a new and growing musical artist could make it in the way we did.” He goes on to say that Google profited immensely from searches (including ones for piracy websites), but left artists out of the loop. These aren’t exactly new issues: the RIAA has complained for years that Google makes it too easy for users to find pirated music.
Young has been a fierce critic of online music services in the past, pulling his music from streaming services over complaints about the sound quality in 2015. He put his money where his mouth is in December, launching The Neil Young Archive, a collection of almost all of his music, available in a high-quality format. The site is presently free, but users will be charged beginning on June 30th.