Atoms For Peace Pull Music From Spotify

By Liz Pelly / July 14, 2013

Atoms For Peace have pulled all of their music from Spotify. “Someone gotta say something,” Nigel Godrich tweeted this morning. “It’s bad for new music.” Thom Yorke has pulled his solo album The Eraser from Spotify as well. Read the band’s explanation via Godrich’s Twitter below.

Anyway. Here’s one. We’re off of Spotify. Can’t do that no more man. Small meaningless rebellion. Someone gotta say something. It’s bad for new music. This is just Eraser and Amok and Ultraista. The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work. 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. Meanwhile small labels and new artists can’t even keep their lights on. It’s just not right. Plus people are scared to speak up or not take part as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don’t play ball. Meanwhile millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all. Anyway. Thems the breaks. Opinions welcome but discussion and new thinking necessary. 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 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. Anyway thumbs hurting now… ;)

Yorke added, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples.”

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Spotify responds (via MusicWeek):

Spotify’s goal is to grow a service which people love, ultimately want to pay for, and which will provide the financial support to the music industry necessary to invest in new talent and music… We want to help artists connect with their fans, find new audiences, grow their fan base, and make a living from the music we all love.

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 US$500M to rightsholders 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.

We’re 100% 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.

UPDATE 2: Godrich has responded to Spotify’s response (via P4K):

So Spotify say they have generated $500 million dollars for ‘license holders.” The way that Spotify works is that the money is divided up by percentage of total streams. Big labels have massive back catalogues so their 40-year-old record by a dead artist earns them the same slice of the pie as a brand new track by a new artist. The big labels did secret deals with Spotify and the like in return for favourable royalty rates. The massive amount of catalogue being streamed guarantees that they get the big massive slice of the pie (that $500 million) and the smaller producers and labels get pittance for their comparatively few streams.

This is what’s wrong. Catalogue and new music cannot be lumped in together. The model massively favours the larger companies with big catalogues. They need the new artists to be on the system to guarantee new subscribers and lock down the “new landscape.” This is how they figure they’ll make money in the future. But the model pays pittance to the new artist right now. An inconvenient fact which will keep coming up. I feel a responsibility to speak up when I see something going on which I think is unfair. I’m not bitching about not getting paid. It’s about standing up for other artists’ rights. It’s up to streaming providers to come back with a better way of supporting new music producers. It’s not for us to think up how it could work. That’s your department.

UPDATE 3: Radiohead’s co-manager, Brian Message, has spoken out in support of Spotify. And Godrich has responded.

First, Message’s statement. Per Line Of Best Fit:

Speaking to the BBC last night, Message said that he saw Spotify “as a good thing”, adding that “streaming services are a new way for artists and fans to engage … As a manager of Thom I obviously sit up and take note when he says, ‘Listen guys we need to look at how this works.’ It’s a healthy debate that’s going on right now. He’s rightly asking the question of, ‘What’s in this for new music and new artists?’ I think we’re all debating this. [But] as the model gets bigger I think we’ll find a place where artists and managers and all creators can all receive what they regard as equitable remuneration.

“It’s not black and white, it’s a complicated area. There’s been over 20 attempted reviews of Copyright and how it operates in the internet era, and there’s been no satisfactory solution to it. The bottom line is, technology is here to stay, and evolution of technology is always going to go on. It’s up to me as a manager to work with the likes of Spotify and other streaming services to best facilitate how we monetise those [platforms] for the artists we represent. It’s not easy but it’s great to have the dialogue.”

When Pitchfork tweeted this update, Godrich responded, first with an accusation:

And then, a slight retraction.

This one is not over yet …