Thom Yorke: Youtube seized control of music ‘like the Nazis did’

Thom Yorke: Youtube seized control of music ‘like the Nazis did’


norman lebrecht

December 01, 2015

The Radiohead singer and songwriter has issued a blistering attack on Google-owned Youtube for conquering and occupying the territory, ‘like the Nazis did in the Second World War’.

Here’s what he tells La Reppublica:

‘People still say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free. It’s not true. The service creators make money — Google, YouTube. A huge amount of money by trawling, as 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?’

thom yorke

A misplaced simile, perhaps, but few would disagree with the underlying sentiment.


  • Eddie Mars says:

    Remind me when ‘the Nazis seized control of music’? When was that? As far as is known, those willing to serve the Reich were very well paid.

    Perhaps Thom wanted to say that they’ve appropriated intellectual property ‘like Google does’. That would be a more accurate comparison.

    • Alvaro says:

      Eddie, you not being able to grasp a simple analogy speaks VOLUMES of the increased brainpower thst listening to classical music, knowing of classical music, and understanding classical music supposedly promotes.

      Its all BS apparently…..

    • Max Grimm says:

      Look up the term “Entartete Musik”.

      • Eddie Mars says:

        What has Entaerte Musik got to do with abuse of performing rights by Google/Youtube?

        Comparisons of modern problems with Nazi crimes merely trivialise the horrors of the Third Reich.

        • Max Grimm says:

          “Entartete Musik” has nothing to do with Google or YouTube, but you said “Remind me when ‘the Nazis seized control of music’?” ….and I did.

          • Eddie Mars says:

            In what way have Google/YouTube stopped Yorke performing, deported him, detained him, tortured him or murdered him? Has he been put on any list of ‘twisted’ or ‘perverse’ music by Google or YouTube? ie ‘Entaerte’.

            The comparison is not only false, but insults the actual victims of the Third Reich by the trivialised comparison.

        • Max Grimm says:

          Did you even bother to read my comment before responding? Hint, read the first sentence I wrote.

  • Emil says:

    How dare he use the Nazis to draw attention to himself? Good thing Norman Lebrecht would never do that.

    • Tim says:

      lol…I’m sure the honorable Mr. Lebrecht will remind Mr. Yorke that there are only a select group of people who are “allowed” to make such comparisons.

  • Charles G. Clark-Maxwell says:

    ==Remind me when ‘the Nazis seized control of music’?

    He doesn’t say this. Instead “it’s LIKE what the nazis did”

    • Eddie Mars says:

      But it’s NOT like what the Nazis did. It bears NO RESEMBLANCE to what the Nazis did. It’s a degrading and pig-ignorant comparison. Yorke should be ashamed of himself.

  • Alvaro says:

    I disagree. What happened is a change in paradigm thanks to technology and sole old fashioned people are reticent to chamge. Its natural and it happens in every industry.

    I bet there are photographers that sre still bitter that we dont use film anymore and have all exchanged cameras for the small little things in our cellphones corners. Oh surprise, maybe they were associated with Kodak and lost their position of dominance on the way and now they are bitter. Its all the same story.

    Tough luck Yorke. Adapt or get out of the way!

    • Ann Nomynous says:

      What an arrogant reply. If you welcome the inevitable change of the world where stealing your property or denying your rights to your work is okay, then you’re just supporting criminals. You know, most of YouTube’s content is there without proper permission, and it’s illegal. If you’re okay with that, then that just speaks of your immorality.

  • Kathleen McCarthy says:

    Sounds like Godwin’s Law on speed.

    • Eddie Mars says:

      Yes, exactly! Using the Third Reich as a catch-all comparison for everything which annoys us in life is neither clever nor apt. Instead it cheapens the true level of atrocity committed by the Reich, by false equivalence with the petty inconveniences of modern life.

      If Yorke is saying that YouTube is involved in illegal detentions, deportations and round-ups based on religious or ethnic distinction, or using human prisoners for bogus scientific experiments, he’s so far off target that it’s almost criminally libelous.

      • Max Grimm says:

        While I share your dislike of flippant Nazi comparisons, you could have saved yourself the musings in your second paragraph, by reading the excerpt from Mr. Yorke’s comments to the end:
        “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.”

  • laura says:

    It’s a stupid use of a simile using Nazis (which always seems to make news, annoyingly enough) but the underlying frustration with the fact that so many artists are just rolling over for Youtube and the like is very real and very newsworthy. Even the recording labels and distributors (Naxos included) are jumping on the bandwagon of Youtube, putting up their music there for free with a lame picture, with the vague promise of (tiny, tiny, tiny) income from it eventually when Youtube either gets ad income (again: tiny, tiny, tiny) or when Youtube somehow miraculously gets enough income from subscribers to a deluxe service. The income is still infinitesimally small, and nothing really trickles back down to the artists. Heck, even the labels themselves will not be able to sustain operations with the .0000001 % return they get on allowing their products to be shown for free. Meanwhile, the VALUE of music erodes as hordes of people get accustomed to listening/watching music content for free. Why should they pay for that, when they can listen for free? I’m not anti-technology, but I am anti- anything that is only destined to kill industries that support the creation of art. And all of that for not even pennies on the dollar.