Reports that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke earned a whopping £ 13 million from a solo album released exclusively through the BitTorrent website were met with shouts of “Finally!” by those hoping for a direct way to make music profitable outside the shackles of conventional promotion and distribution.
But unfortunately for those who thought it had to be too good to be true, it was. A Thom Yorke spokeswoman described the reports as “totally false”.
Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, which released on BitTorrent for $ 6 last September, hadn’t come close to the rough numbers that were talked about.
The news will be a blow to those who viewed the internet as a means of securing the livelihoods of musicians and artists, rather than just a way of distributing content
It follows a claim in the wake of Taylor Swift’s decision to withdraw its back catalog from Spotify that the streaming site has so far paid $ 2 billion to artists. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the company, which has 12.5 million subscribers, paid out $ 1 billion to the record industry and artists from 2008 to 2013, and has paid out an additional $ 1 billion since then.
Yorke, who once described Spotify and the music industry as the final “desperate fart of a dying corpse,” released his record on BitTorrent – usually the target of choice for those looking for Game of Thrones episodes to download illegally – as “an experiment “. “.
“If it works well, it could be an effective way of giving back control of e-commerce to the people who do the work,” he said in a September press release.
“Avoid the self-chosen gatekeepers. If it works, anyone can do it just like us, ”said Yorke.
“The torrent mechanism does not require server upload or hosting costs or ‘cloud’ malarkey. It is a self-contained, embeddable storefront. The network not only carries the data traffic, but also hosts the file. The file is located in the network. “
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Despite gloomy guesses about how much Yorke made on the record (the reports of dubious math calculation methods range from $ 20 million to $ 1 million), it is clear that the experiment was successful within its range, as it did 4.4 million times downloaded – a quarter of it in the first week. That total is as much as One Direction’s 2013 album Midnight Memories.
While Yorke refused to reveal the true amount of Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, his spokeswoman said “if only!” the £ 13 million reports were correct.