Thom Yorke compares YouTube to Nazi Germany in new interview

The Radiohead frontman said perceptions of music as free are having 'a corrosive effect' on how music is made

Thom Yorke has compared YouTube to Nazi Germany in an extensive new interview about the music industry, Radiohead‘s next album, Yorke’s solo album ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’, and the environment.

Speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Yorke explained that he listened to new music through paid music site Boomkat. “I definitely don’t use YouTube,” he said.

Discussing the application extension AdBlocker – a browser app that allows users to skip adverts on YouTube and other sites, he said, “The funny thing is that YouTube has said ‘that’s not fair’. You know? They say it’s not fair – the people who put adverts in front of any piece of content, making a load of money, while artists don’t get paid or are paid laughable amounts – and that seems fine to them. But if they don’t get a profit out of it, it’s not fair.”



Continuing to speak on the subject of access to music, Yorke discussed how he makes a profit from music sales and streaming. “I don’t know, you tell me,” 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,” he added. “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?”

He went on to discuss his perception of physical music in contrast to digital music. “Recently I got out all the vinyl that I had,” he said. “Stuff collected over a lifetime… with every single vinyl there’s a relationship. Like when I’m DJing: there’s this direct contact, you have to take the disc, choose it, put it in a bag, and put the bags in the taxi and then you have to get them down, open them and so on. That relationship doesn’t exist with digital files, USB sticks. And that has a corrosive effect on how music is made.”

Yorke has been a famous critic of music streaming service Spotify for years. In 2013 he labelled the streaming service “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse” after he and Nigel Godrich, co-creator of Yorke’s solo album ‘The Eraser’, earned “f*ck all” from the service. Discussing other Spotify critics, he noted, “When Byrne sided against Spotify it was a relief for me. Finally, I’m not the only one to say ‘Hey, excuse me, it’s not fair that it works like this.'”