Atoms for Peace Quit Spotify in Protest

Thom Yorke's supergroup say streaming is bad for new music, and that artists like Pink Floyd would never survive in the Spotify era.

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Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich have protested against Spotify and its effect on new music by removing their recent Atoms for Peace album "Amok" from the service.

They soon took to Twitter to complain about how small labels and new artists will find it hard to survive in the new music economy, and says artists like Pink Floyd would never make if they formed today.

"It's bad for new music," said Godrich who is best known as Radiohead's producer. "The reason is that new artists get paid f--k all with this model. It's an equation that just doesn't work."

Fans had a mixed reaction to the protest, promoting a reply from Thom Yorke:

"your small meaningless rebellion is only hurting your fans ... a drop in the bucket really" No we're standing up for our fellow musicians

Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) July 14, 2013

Godrich went on to explain the economics of streaming services and why they suit old major labels and not new artists:

"If you have a massive catalogue - a major label, for example - then you're quids in. It's money for old rope. But making new recorded music needs funding. Some records can be made in a laptop, but some need musician[s] and skilled technicians. These things cost money.

"Pink Floyd's catalogue has already generated billions of dollars for someone (not necessarily the band) so now putting it on a streaming site makes total sense. But if people had been listening to Spotify instead of buying records in 1973, I doubt very much if 'Dark Side...' would have been made. It would just be too expensive."

Godrich adds that streaming does have its place with catalogues of older music, but need to find a way for supporting new artists. "Spotify and the like either have to address that fact and change the model for new releases or else all new music producers should be bold and vote with their feet. They have no power without new music," he said.

If any good has come from this debate, it's this light-hearted observation from music developer Stuart Memo:

Thom Yorke can't afford full-sized maracas because of Spotify. http://t.co/orisiqxqFO

Stuart Memo (@stuartmemo) July 15, 2013

What's your view on the Spotify backlash? Will you be joining the anti-streaming movement? Share your opinion in the comments below.

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nicholsonisgod
    They have made a very reasonable point, and it's actually staggering how many people are missing it. It's not a "meaningless rebellion", since Yorke and the rest of AFP are standing up to what they believe. Besides, Thom and Flea are big enough to make a fuss by pulling out something like this. That being said, I've always thought of Spotify as a turn-around for piracy. It's hardly the heaven people make it. While it is easier to get your band into the spotlights with it than in other music platforms, since it has become popular as hell, the amount of money Spotify gives to artists to have their music on it is actually laughable. Not only this is bad for new bands that are not as successful as Thom Yorke, but it is in no way a guarantee that these bands will be paid everytime someone listens to their music through Spotify. In fact, a lot people who use it (not all, ffs) don't even bother buying anything, since they have this "excuse" to hide behind. It's pretty cheap to Sign Up for Spotify and there's also ways to beat around the bush with it in countries that don't even get its services yet - therefore, many people use it for free. All in all, it was actually a good idea to try to stop bands from being hurt by piracy, but it's packed full of flaws. Really, you can't say that what Yorke is doing here isn't respectable.
    GALGOPOWER
    It's a meaningless rebellion... Thom Yorke try to say "Yeah i'm anti commercial" but Atoms for Peace was a parody of Radiohead made with Flea to sell a max of albums...
    Crazyedd123
    It upsets me that there aren't more major artists doing this. There could be some real change being made if the more mainstream musicians took a stance like this.
    MrKyran
    Thank god this is finally being addressed. Spotify pays each artist 0.0002p per listen. That's still got to be split between band members. So a band requires 5,800,000 listens PER MONTH to earn minimum wage in America. Spotify as an IDEA is fantastic, it is brilliant. Pirating gets reduced and artists can earn money from their songs in an easy way. But currently it is far from advantageous to any new musician.
    J...Out
    Spotify isn't any bands sole source of income. Chances are if you are if you are on spotify you are out touring, selling records, selling on iTunes, selling merchandise, and doing whatever else they do to survive. If they don't like it then pull out like AFP does. I'm not going to support a cry baby like Thom York ever again. Why is he putting out crappy music? To make money or because he enjoys doing it? If he is doing it for money he needs to out a better produce if he wants more money. If he's doing it for his love of music he should be happy he is able to make money off it at all. York is a bore and a blowhard.
    MusicmonkeyTyke
    Can't stand it when some just say 'Oh they want more money!' they were a fair amount on twitter, just shows how its asif some people just have an ADHD mindset to matters and formulate an opinion from almost nothing.
    Alowishus
    I totally understand the point that if you have access to the music you will never buy it. Well for me personally, I have found a lot of my favourite bands through Spotify. Which has lead to me buying both concert tickets and their albums. It just depends on the person. Spotify is a great tool for finding music you like, without having to buy tons of albums and finding that half of them are shit and they end up just lying on a shelf, never to be played.
    ibanez124
    If people want to stream my bands music, I am all for it. Hopefully it will bring them out to a live show. Spotify lets you listen to great music that you would otherwise never hear of, especially local up and coming bands.
    UniformRecon
    The issue is that most people who find that music will think "Wow, I've found great music, and I don't have to buy the record because I can stream it for free/dirt cheap along with many other great songs/albums!" So it is good for getting known, but it's not good for getting sales/money once you are known. Double-edged sword.
    jebbe9696
    Also, it's not like you are unknown, and then suddenly are famous. To be able to do work on your music and tour, you need an income.
    filipe26
    I am not sure about it, but sometimes i question if REALLY REALLY ALREADY talented musicians won't get recognized either way. Cause there are people nowadays, in metal for instance, that made it (apparently) out of their own selves, like Animals As Leaders and Periphery, AND Meshuggah (a little bit older). It seems like Spotify and such might be bad for big artists, and if that is the case they should boycott, but it does seem that for new bands, these TYPES of service, not Spotify itself, are really good.
    EqualOfHeaven
    This seems like the same arguement that most people use against internet piracy, and since streaming services like Spotify are essentially the most reliable solution to internet piracy I kind of think it's just fighting against the tide. We're entering into an era now where bands need to cement their reputation and make their money through playing live, the age of coasting on record sales is over, any band, old or new, has to to tour to make money. Personally I think it's better this way. In terms of promotion for gigs Spotify and other such services are the best thing any up and coming band could ask for, people outside of their hometown can hear their music before the band plays in their town, which is vital for a band looking to get more than eight people attending their gig when they play away from home.
    duncang
    The point is that bands some bands can't afford to make their albums because it takes them off the road.
    Riggy
    I'm a small independent musician, and I welcome Spotify. It isn't making or breaking anyones career, it's just another medium in which to present your material. People listening to your stuff legally and getting paid 0.0002p is better then no-one listening to it and not getting paid, or listening to it illegally, and not getting paid. If you where expecting to rely on it as an income stream, and you're not in a big band, then you're deluded. And if you're in a position to be making a chunk of money out of it, you're probably making a shed load from touring etc anyway. Go home Thom, you're drunk.
    theguitarerguy
    Spotify or any streaming service isn't harmful to the artist if you don't take advantage of it. I use Spotify all the time, but I use it to see if I like an album before buying it or to learn about a band. If anything, Spotify should prompt the artists to make better music because people get to try before they buy, but of course you have people who refuse to buy music and give the artists the money they need and deserve.
    jordo246
    It is harmful in the sense that not everybody is like you, they may listen to a band on there and never buy an album by them because it's right there for them anyway.
    sca.smith
    Indeed, because of Spotify I don't think I've heard of any of my friends legitimately buying an album for the full price knowing full well the artist gets a tiny sliver of money for their product - Yet Spotify is unfortunately one of the best mediums of getting your band well known. Some of them even pay for Spotify to find new bands, then pirate their entire discography so that they can get rid of Spotify later. That's just completely backwards, man.
    jordo246
    There's never an upside without a downside I guess.
    zeroceid
    I actually went through both sides of the argument on my music blog. I would love you to check it out at www.rockatlantic.wordpress.com =] Thankyou =] On a brighter note, Amok is awesome!
    takenthecannoli
    Then why don't you grow a pair and take Radiohead down, Thom? Protip: he won't.
    duncang
    Probably because he can't. Remember the greatest hits Parlophone released against their will?
    Jozef23
    In Rainbows isn't on Spotify...I'll let you think about that for a while
    UniformRecon
    He took down the Atoms for Peace stuff, though
    TheBigDirty716
    because he owns the rights to those Atoms for Peace songs, but not to the Radiohead songs, the record label owns the Radiohead stuff. #politicsofmusic
    takenthecannoli
    Yeah, my point is he'll try to make a statement by bitching about this by taking off something arguably expendable. If he gave enough of a shit, wouldn't he go all out? Or at least attempt to.
    TheBigDirty716
    Thom doesn't own the rights to the songs. He can perform them, but has no control over what is done with them at this point. Those songs are the product the record company sells. Spotify helps promote their product, it would go against the whole reason they're in business to take those Radiohead songs down. Whether he wants them down or not he can't do anything about it because he doesn't own the rights to them. He could, however, take down the Atoms for Peace stuff because he owns the AfP rights.
    Galfadez
    Also this is totally a Tom Davenport article, it has him written all over it.
    J...Out
    You people obviously don't know how the music business works. Selling albums isn't what makes most bands money. Its the touring. Let's be honest. Spotify is great for musicians. No one with half a brain os going to pay for spotify to listen to their favorite album without already buying it. Spotify has helped me discover bands I've never heard of, let me relisten to music I tried before but didn't like, and I've used it to introduce music to different people. All things that wouldnt have happened without it. Besides. No one is gonna be upset that AFP is off spotify.... you feel you are being ripped off Thom? I bought your crappy CD Amok. Its horrible and I feel I've been ripped off. Can I have my $10 back?
    jebbe9696
    I think it's you who doesn't have an idea how the music biz works to be honest. Selling records give labels money, and almost all bands need labels. As record sales decline, labels get less adventurous, and will only bet their money on sure bets. Which means bands that already have a large following, or top40 hits. In addition, getting money for touring becomes increasingly difficult, and paying for a large tour out of ones own pocket is horribly expensive. Also, it's only a small minority who will pay for spotify while also buying the album. One of them is redundant to most people, and its not spotify. Your opinion on AFP is not so important as a major artist taking a stand against spotify.
    nicholsonisgod
    No, it's not. Touring costs a good amount of money. Unless a band can afford a tour by themselves (99% of the time this doesn't happen), they'll most likely need a good income from the music they record. That includes the labels helping them with publicity, venues, food, gas, and everything. In fact, even if those bands actually could afford to pay for a tour by themselves, the income from the shows would be so ridiculous that it wouldn't even be worth touring. Also, it's not that easy to find places to do gigs. Virtually no venues open their doors to a band if it doesn't have a good "background" (in other words, money, label contract, etc). And surely a couple of cents from Spotify put together at the end of the month can't fund a tour, considering how many people don't even bother buying a CD because they can get music for a few cents per month with Spotify. We can't really expect that all people who use Spotify buy the albums subsequently, because it doesn't happen. If it did, we would see a considerable raise on the album sales of up and coming acts and smaller labels, and that's not what happens. Labels are closing their doors like crazy and bands getting a lot of trouble nowadays because of such things. Also, Yorke doesn't feel like he's being ripped off. The man's a millionaire. He is standing up to those who aren't as big as him.
    filipe26
    Also, Yorke doesn't feel like he's being ripped off. The man's a millionaire. He is standing up to those who aren't as big as him.
    Raedwald
    The important thing is, Dark Side Of The Moon DID get made. That's all that matters to me.
    kartikc11
    yes, but the point is, what if there is another one waiting to be made, but is not because of spotify and the likes. what if (it already is) the industry cares about that one single...
    minor7
    Yea what else is new? The entire business is rigged so that we only hear what THEY decide we should hear. It has been since before I'd ever even heard of online downloading. Next,.....
    AusMakka
    I love Spotify and use it continuously. I have found it is a great way for me to discover new music (via the Radio option). Sure, I agree with Thom that artists don't make a huge amount of money out of it but it's great for exposure. Plus, paying $12(Aus) per month beats the crap out of paying iTunes prices, even if I don't own a copy. Personally I think there are other ways they could protest against Spotify, but they are stopping fans listening to their music and stopping people who are new to their music from having a listen to it. Legally!
    lextexrex
    Good. Either Spotify should change their model or bands should just opt out.
    scarabs
    The bands/labels choose to go on there so i don't feel bad for using it. Fair enough if they don't want to, but you'd hope the more bands and material are on it, the more people will come to use and pay for Spotify and so their royalties will be higher.
    zn-1
    Have they ever thought that maybe their music just isn't good? Seems that they're treating Spotify as if it's their only source of income. I had never even heard of Atoms for Peace until Amok came out. Maybe if they had promoted it better, they'd get paid more because more people would listen to it? Maybe that's just me, but blaming a service like this for issues with payment is stupid when there are all kinds of ways for a band to make money.
    jebbe9696
    "maybe they should have promoted it better" Well, promotion costs massive amounts of money. And because the labels don't get money anymore (because of little record sales, due to piracy and streaming services)they aren't especially inclined to pay for the promotion. It isn't just AFP who is losing money from spotify. But they are only one of the few taking a stand.
    zn-1
    Buying their music costs money too. I pay monthly for Spotify, and I love it. Everyone is losing money period, and not just from Spotify. Promotion is one of the best ways to get a band known, and I'm sorry that they can't just take to Facebook or MTV or appearances or interviews or Twitter or Tumblr to talk about their album. Making an album, promoting it, and whatever else may cost money, but from the ordinary person too, if we can even afford to buy a CD, we will. More people turn to piracy because a huge amount of people can't even afford to buy CDs to begin with. I agree that Spotify should pay them more, but taking your music off isn't going to hurt them at all.. In fact, it probably hurts AFP a bit because now whatever money they were making from Spotify isn't being made now.
    Kueller917
    I'm a bit torn on how they handled this. I don't think it's all evil although I also don't think it's the solution to piracy like people claim it is. I do think that artists should choose to go onto Spotify by their own right if they feel the promotion is worth the possible loss in sales. I'm sure Thom Yorke could understand that seeing as that's kind of what he did for In Rainbows. I'm also never sure what to think of the album cost. It's true studios and engineers cost money but I've also heard people do near-professional grade production in their bedroom with a couple of microphones and a simple interface. Maybe the future of music could bring self-production for the smaller bands. But since I've never been in a band myself, much less doing music professionally, I don't know if that would be a good system or not.