Why Radiohead Is Rethinking Spotify…

Radiohead's 'A Moon Shaped Pool' Now On Spotify
  • Save

Spotify finally have Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool album they were waiting for…

After much anticipation and early speculation, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool is finally available on Spotify.  Today (June 17th), the album made its way onto the streaming platform, over a month after being available on nearly every other streaming service.

Spotify initially only had access to the two songs: ‘Burn the Witch’ and ‘Daydreaming,’ both from the album.  Now the full album is available to stream for all Spotify users.

What’s interesting is that Radiohead’s lead singer, Thom Yorke, is openly against Spotify (and free streaming in general), and a big advocate for artists getting fair pay.  He previously pulled his music from Spotify back in 2013, dubbing the service ”the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.”

So, what’s changed?

Alongside a collapse in nearly every other format, consumers are overwhelmingly opting to consume (and sometimes pay) for music via streaming platforms.  Even more so since 2015, when Apple Music and Tidal entered the scene, streaming is simply giving music listeners more choice.  Now, Apple is expanded streaming to a global scale, spreading more awareness about paid music subscription services.

Streaming is now the biggest source of recording revenues for the US music industry, a development that’s difficult for some artists to swallow.  Especially those artists, like Radiohead, that have been in the industry long enough to experience these massive shifts in music consumption.  But the more bitter pill comes from per-stream revenues, which are horribly low on free-access tiers, though bigger artists can still generate some revenue from ad-supported plays.

But why change now?

After expressing public hatred for the service back in 2013, perhaps Radiohead is simply coming to terms with the shift towards streaming.  And in particular free streaming, which doesn’t seem to be disappearing.  Spotify has remained steadfast in this area; perhaps they’re winning the argument.

That said, there have been rumors that Radiohead were negotiating with Spotify about an exclusive release on their premium tier.  That would be a huge precedent, and obviously didn’t happen.  Though perhaps the fresh talks helped to resolve old issues.

There’s also the distinct possibility that Radiohead is doing a new style of ‘streaming windowing’.  Radiohead opted to release their music on streaming services that do not have a free tier first, in order to generate more revenue.  It was only later that the band made it more widely available (enter freemium platforms like Spotify).  Other artists, most notably Beyonce with Lemonade and Kanye West with The Life of Pablo, may also be adopting this move.

5 Responses

  1. Me

    Also worth noting is that a couple of their older albums, In Rainbows & King of Limbs are now back on Spotify after being taken down a while back. Perhaps they’ve finally realized that taking their music away from 30 million people isn’t the best move.

    • They're just making people wait for free.

      It’s a pretty simple window – wait 30, 60, 90 days before it’s available on free streaming platforms – just like Netflix and Movies…

  2. MarkH

    Having a window between paid streaming and free streaming makes sense. The world is on-demand now, the downloading era is over.

    • Maximus

      No it makes zero sense. If you can’t get it on the streaming platform you pay for or on free Spotify people will just torrent it and they will loose a good chunk of streaming revenue.

  3. Anonymous

    What’s the point of writing an article saying why Radiohead is streaming when all your reasons are guesses? Ask someone on their team. Get a quote. Write news.