Thom Yorke vs Spotify: some thoughts…

Thom Yorke of Atoms for PeaceIts been a strange few days alright. I was in Dublin enjoying this fine band at Hard Working Class Heroes, then I was rushing home on Saturday as a close relative was hospitalised, and then on Sunday I was standing next to people dressed like this. Surreal? Just a little bit. And now, having had an enforced couple of days away from compiling the Daily Digest, I return to find… yet more news about Spotify, a company who I’m starting to think should be sponsoring the Daily Digest on the basis of their near-permanent presence on it.

I can’t deny that on some points I do feel a little conflicted. Given I’d expressed some reticence about Spotify’s “Follow” button last week, Yorke’s remark that “Spotify [are] suddenly trying to become the gatekeepers to the whole process” is one I struggle to disagree with. Equally however comments like “We don’t need you to do it. No artists needs you to do it. We can build the shit ourselves, so fuck off” are frankly pretty petulant at best and plain wrong at worst.

Here’s the thing: Spotify are just doing what any company will do. If not them, then Rdio, Deezer, Google, Beats or any of the other competitors. And if its not any of them, it’ll be someone else. That is just the nature of business. You can only change things by presenting an alternative of some kind. So, amid all Yorke’s comments of empowerment and how artists don’t need to do this, only one thing kept recurring in my mind: “do it then”. Because as long as you’re signed to XL, having come up via EMI’s pre-internet marketing machine, standing there criticising whilst offering nothing by way of a solution is once again starting to bring to mind images of Yorke and Godrich as Waldorf & Statler, parked on the side and heckling like all hell.

Don’t get me wrong: I think criticism is healthy (hell I’m doing it right now) but this debate either needs more people involved, or a fresh line. Without those, it will soon become a tired headline and interest will fade – at which point one could argue that Yorke may have done more harm than good by ensuring total apathy on the part of the consumer. So – will anyone else step up?

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