Thom Yorke, Hard Working Class Heroes and being in a band
Some thoughts on Thom Yorke’s latest Spotify rant and the artists panel at the weekend’s Hard Working Class Heroes convention
Thom Yorke is at it again. The dude, who is fast acquiring the title of an analogue man in a digital world, had another go at Spotify at the weekend. Speaking to Mexican website Sopitas, he lashed out at the streaming service in no uncertain terms.
Per Consequence of Sound who carry a translation of the interview, Yorke railed at many things to do with Spotify, how people listen to music, the majors (obviously still a thing in Yorke’s mind because his band were stupid enough to hand over the rights to their masters a long time ago), technology, gatekeepers and the mainstream. He called it, in the quote which will be carried everywhere, “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”.
It’s interesting to hear what Yorke has to say, in many ways reminiscent of Lars Ulrich and co’s views on Napster, after hearing the honest, frank and refreshing opinions aired at The Artists Talk Back panel at Hard Working Class Heroes at the weekend. I was joined by Nial Conlan from Delorentos, Conor Adams from The Cast of Cheers, May-Kay from Fight Like Apes and Conor Deasy from Biggles Flys Again to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of being in a band in 2013 (the panel was recorded and will be available to watch again shortly).
Much ground was covered, from realising when you’ve hired the wrong people to the ins and outs of sponsorship. It was only towards the end of the discussion that there was any mention of Spotify and streaming and this was just in passing. Instead what came across again and again was that being in a band is about being in a business. If you’re serious about what you are doing, you have to treat it like a business. It may not have been top of your list when you first formed the band, but it soon becomes clear that this is what is required.
Despite all they’ve been through – and we had tales of management and label woes – all four panelists were positive about their lot. It’s safe to say that none of them are on the same wealth or success level as Yorke, yet there was a lot of optimism about what it’s like to be in a band in 2013. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, you may end up playing to three people and the soundman in Leeds. Yes, you’ll probably wish you were doing something else. But all four seemed ready, able and willing to proceed and carry on. None were talking about turning the clock back or trying to put the genie back in the bottle.
I don’t know about you but I’m far more interested in the views, opinions and actions of new acts like these than old farts (to use his own word) like Yorke. Radiohead and Yorke made their money and had their success during the record industry’s CD boom of the Nineties and everything they do and think is linked to that. But the world has moved on and you have to face new realities and take advantage of new opportunities. To constantly give out about Spotify, which Yorke is wont to do, achieves nothing but draw attention to the fact that you’re out of touch. Yorke has his platform and his audience and he’s sadly not using either to do anything other than whinge and whine.