In a recent interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke did not mince words when he accused YouTube and its parent company Google of “seizing control” of art, comparing their tactics to Nazi Germany’s infamous art theft during World War II.
Yorke criticized the advertisements that precede most content on the video-streaming service. “[Google makes] a lot of money and yet, artists are not paid or are paid small sums,” he said, “and apparently this is fine for them.” He further criticized the hypocrisy of YouTube’s opposition to application extensions like Adblock, which, when installed, prevent commercials from streaming before the desired content. “If [YouTube] don’t get a profit out of it, [then] it’s not fair.”
When Yorke was asked how musicians could navigate the current industry paradigm, which emphasizes digital consumption, and still make a profit, he said:
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. 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?
Yorke has been a vocal opponent of services like YouTube, which distribute content for free without fair compensation; two years ago, he criticized streaming giant Spotify of being “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.”