Thom Yorke Compares YouTube to Nazi Germany

Nuremberg Rally, 1934. Thom Yorke compared YouTube to Nazi Germany during World War II.

 

“They’ve seized control of it – it’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War. Actually, it’s like what everyone was doing during the war, even the English – stealing the art of other countries. What difference is there?”

Thom Yorke, discussing YouTube with La Repubblica.

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Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is taking some of his biggest swings yet against streaming music and YouTube in particular, comparing the low-paying video platform to Nazi Germany in the 1940s.  Here are some notable snippets translated from an  interview between La Repubblica with Yorke.

I definitely don’t use YouTube,” Thom Yorke clearly stated on the topic, before diving into the issues surrounding the now-widespread use of AdBlocker on the platform.

“The funny thing is that YouTube has said ‘that’s not fair’,” Yorke noted.  “You know? They say it’s not fair – the people who put adverts in front of any piece of content, making a load of money, while artists don’t get paid or are paid laughable amounts – and that seems fine to them.  But if they don’t get a profit out of it, it’s not fair.”

On the topic of YouTube profiting while artists make micro-pennies:

“I don’t know, you tell me.   I don’t have the solution to these problems.  I only know that they’re making money with the work of loads of artists who don’t get any benefit from it.”

On the ‘corrosive effect’ that the shift towards digital has created:

“Recently I got out all the vinyl that I had.  Stuff collected over a lifetime… with every single vinyl there’s a relationship.  Like when I’m DJing: there’s this direct contact, you have to take the disc, choose it, put it in a bag, and put the bags in the taxi and then you have to get them down, open them and so on.  That relationship doesn’t exist with digital files, USB sticks.

“And that has a corrosive effect on how music is made.”

On David Byrne’s recent stance against Spotify:

“When [David] Byrne sided against Spotify it was a relief for me. Finally, I’m not the only one to say ‘Hey, excuse me, it’s not fair that it works like this.'”

On YouTube and the fallacy of ‘free music’:

“People continue to say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free.  It’s not true. The creators of services make money – Google, YouTube. A huge amount of money, by trawling, like in the sea – they take everything there is. ‘Oh, sorry, was that yours? Now it’s ours. No, no, we’re joking – it’s still yours’.

“They’ve seized control of it – it’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.  Actually, it’s like what everyone was doing during the war, even the English – stealing the art of other countries.  What difference is there?”

 

 

Image: Nuremberg Rally, 1934, licensed from the German Federal Archive under CC by SA 3.0 Germany.

19 Responses

  1. blatanville

    On the ‘corrosive’ impact that the shift towards digital has created:

    “Recently I got out all the vinyl that I had. Stuff collected over a lifetime… with every single vinyl there’s a relationship. Like when I’m DJing: there’s this direct contact, you have to take the disc, choose it, put it in a bag, and put the bags in the taxi and then you have to get them down, open them and so on. That relationship doesn’t exist with digital files, USB sticks.

    “And that has a corrosive effect on how music is made.”

    In addition to Godwinning his own arguments with a reference to Nazi Germany, he’s revealed himself to be a THING fetishist, in this case his vinyl record collection.
    Yeah, I have a few collectible/interesting/weird pieces of vinyl and some cool limited CD packages…but you know what it’s supposed to be about, Thom?
    The Music.
    A great song will stand out whether you hear it on an AM radio with a three-inch speaker, or a $40k audio system; the song will still make an impression whether it comes from a vinyl record, a CD, an MP3 file, or streaming over the internet.
    Make great songs, and people will cherish them. Make rubbish, and we’ll move onto something else…

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Good to see this guy’s Stockholm Syndrome has worn off. Now the rest of artists need to wake up.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Absolutely agreed! I would expand that statement to Google in general.
    Drunk nazi serving other people’s property to equally drunk and clueless Hitlerjugent!

    United with them UMG traitors with Vevo adding more to the tube furnace with hope for miracle and…

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Don’t use words you can’t spell.

      You’re right about Google, though. I’m not crazy about Godwinning, to use blatanville’s phrase — and I think Yorke should show a bit more respect for the real WWII victims — but I have to admit that the art theft analogy is spot on.

      Google’s organized, industrial theft of other people’s property beats everything we’ve seen since the 1940s.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Theft and murder are not on the same scale, sorry. You can’t say “lots of theft” is on the same scale as “lots of murder” – murder is always worse than theft, theft is never as wrong as murder.

        Learn a sense of proportion, folks.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          “Theft and murder are not on the same scale”

          Agree — read my comment again.

          However, there’s no need to reduce the Nazis to mass murderers in the public conversation. They were so much more than that.

          Wholesale art thieves, for instance. Like Google.

          Reply
          • Name2

            However, there’s no need to reduce the Nazis to mass murderers in the public conversation.

            Why? They were so much more than that?

            They were so much more than that.

            omg. [FACEPALM]

      • Name2

        but I have to admit that the art theft analogy is spot on.

        No, actually. It isn’t.

        Take out the Nazis, cast out ALL that emotional baggage, and the ONLY way this analogy could even make one molecule of sense is if Google staff broke into Thom’s studio and made off with his single master before anyone got a chance to dupe any. OR…. what the hell, leave the Nazis in and stipulate that said single Thom Yorke recording is as pivotal to Western civ as anything that remains unrecovered from the Reich.

        Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Uh, seriously?

    We’re comparing genocide and concentration camps to unfair royalty payments?

    I side with artists on the issue, and I support artists who refuse to deal with companies like Spotify or YouTube… but this is a retarded statement. When YouTube starts murdering people en masse, maybe we can revisit the analogy. In the meantime, comparing sleazy corporate behavior to fucking genocide is probably not appropriate.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      “We’re comparing genocide and concentration camps to unfair royalty payments?”

      Agree. But you have to admit nobody else has stolen this amount of art since the Nazis.

      We’re talking billions of dollars here. You can’t compare that to anything else.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Yes, but shockingly, art theft isn’t really what the nazis are known for – when you say “nazi” the typical person doesn’t (and arguably shouldn’t) immediately think “oh, the bastards who stole all the art.”

        The genocide bits tend to overshadow that – when you’re talking about them as art thieves, it’s probably really important to make that clear because that’s not the common perception of nazis. Without making that clear, it’s reasonable to expect it to come off to other people as your comparing genocide to sleazy royalty payments.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          Again, I get what you’re saying.

          But I’m no longer sure it’s a good idea to ignore all other Nazi crimes than camps and genocide.

          History can be good for you. And the Nazis’ theft — and destruction — of art is a very important chapter.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            Hey Name2, I just saw your credit card info on Google.

            Don’t worry, it was just a copy.

          • Remi Swierczek

            “Hey (Larry Page, Susan Wojcicki or Lucian Grainge) I just saw your credit card info on Google.
            Don’t worry, it was just a copy”

            I LOVE IT! The best statement yet. I suggest twitting and re-twitting for all of those who care and have sizable Twitter crowd.

          • Name2

            I wouldn’t even download that sophomoric bullshit for free.

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