Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, one of the first people to give the internet what it really wanted in terms of music distribution, has some concerns about what has happened to music in the last few years.
The Guardian has a huge, and definitely read-worthy profile out right now, in which Yorke talks his projects both past and present. For a brief bit, he also talks about music as content in the internet age.
Here’s some interesting stuff from that interview:
“We were so into the net around the time of Kid A. Really thought it might be an amazing way of connecting and communicating. And then very quickly we started having meetings where people started talking about what we did as ‘content’. They would show us letters from big media companies offering us millions in some mobile phone deal or whatever it was, and they would say all they need is some content. I was like, what is this ‘content’ which you describe? Just a filling of time and space with stuff, emotion, so you can sell it?”
He went on to lament companies like Google and Apple “commodifying” music:
“[Google and Apple] have to keep commodifying things to keep the share price up, but in doing so they have made all content, including music and newspapers, worthless, in order to make their billions. And this is what we want? I still think it will be undermined in some way. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Interesting words from Yorke, who in 2007 put the Radiohead album In Rainbows up online and let people choose how much they wanted to pay to download it.