Thom Yorke’s side project Atoms for Peace joined a growing list of artists Sunday to take their music off of a streaming music service in what band member/producer Nigel Godrich calls a “small meaningless rebellion.”
Godrich took to Twitter this past weekend to announce that he and Yorke have nixed Atoms For Peace’s debut album AMOK, Yorke’s solo record The Eraser and a self-titled album from Godrich’s project Ultraista from the service.
Those albums are also not available on streaming services Rdio and Deezer, although The Eraser is currently up on Rhapsody, as is Ultraista.
“We’re off of Spotify. Can’t do that no more man,” Godrich tweeted. “Small meaningless rebellion….Someone gotta say something. It’s bad for new music. The reason is that new artists get paid f**** all with this model… It’s an equation that just doesn’t work,” he said.
Anyway. Here's one. We're off of spotify.. Can't do that no more man.. Small meaningless rebellion.
— nigel godrich (@nigelgod) July 14, 2013
Yorke, for his part, retweeted Godrich’s tweets and added his own 2 cents via Twitter: “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no [sic] get paid. meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples,” he said, adding, “For me In Rainbows was a statement of trust. people still value new music ..that’s all we’d like from Spotify. don’t make us the target,” referring to the album that Radiohead released via a pay-want-you-want model in 2007.
for me In Rainbows was a statement of trust .people still value new music ..that's all we'd like from Spotify. don't make us the target.
— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) July 15, 2013
The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney cited similar reasons in 2011 for not putting the band’s latest album El Camino on the service. “If it was fair to the artist, we would be involved in it,” Carney told WGRD 97.9. “I imagine if Spotify becomes something that people are willing to pay for, then I’m sure iTunes will just create their own service, and they’re actually fair to artists.”
Apple recently announced that it will be getting into the streaming music game with iTunes Radio, a Pandora-esque service that is slated to drop this fall. That service will not be comparable to Spotify, however, as it will be more focused on radio than on-demand listening.
In response to Godrich and Yorke’s protest, Spotify released the following statement Monday (July 15) saying they are working on a project that will have a “hugely positive effect on artists and new music.”
“We’ve already paid US $500M to rights-holders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US $1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music,” the statement read. ” We’re 100 percent committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible and are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers.”
Godrich himself acknowledged that services like Spotify are still in their early days — which launched in the U.S. two years ago — saying: “The music industry is being taken over by the back door.. 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.. But it’s not about that.. It’s about establishing the model which will be extremely valuable.”
He tweeted that the way Spotify functions generates more money for big labels with huge back catalogs than smaller producers and labels, so the $500 million that Spotify reports amassing for license holders mostly goes to big wigs rather than up and comers.
When it comes to streaming services’ impact on the market, the idea is still very much in its infancy. Spotify has 6 million paying subscribers worldwide, while Apple has more than 575 million iTunes accounts — most with credit cards and one-click buying attached. And although digital sales in the U.S. burgeoned in 2012 for the first time in a decade, physical sales still remain tops.
Still, there has been a lot of attention of late focused on these new models as they continue to grow, with bands like the Black Keys, Coldplay and Adele taking tunes off of Spotify and Pink Floyd taking on Pandora over that service’s ongoing fight with paying pricey Internet radio royalties.
All this attention is shining a bright light on services like Spotify just two years out of the gate, who can say little to defend their practices, according to media analyst Mark Mulligan.
According to Mulligan, these services have signed non-disclosure agreements detailing how much they can reveal about how much they’re paying out and when.
A rep from Rhapsody said: “We have nondisclosures with the labels that preclude us from disclosing our exact rates/payments. And we do not know what the labels pay artists from what we pay them. Those terms are negotiated between the label and the artists.” Spotify declined to comment on their payout methods.
Godrich and Yorke’s tweets this past weekend are kicking up a storm on Twitter of late, with other artists and fans weighing in with either support or derision. Musician Four Tet said: “I had everything on my label taken off. Don’t want to be part of this crap,” while Twitter user @furryface asserted: “Stop blaming the shitty deals you have with record labels on Spotify, Pandora & Rdio.”
CEO of the forthcoming Beats streaming service Ian Rodgers tweeted about the dust-up as well, and intends to use this experience as further inspiration for his service, code-named Daisy, which will give artists more tools and access upon launch.
“I sent Nigel’s entire rant to Jimmy and Trent this morning,” he said, referring to Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor, chief creative officer of Daisy and Nine Inch Nails frontman. “We have to be a part of the solution, not the problem.”
MTV New has reached out to Atoms For Peace’s camp and has yet to hear back.