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Byrne and Yorke on the Real Value of Music

When Radiohead were preparing their latest webcast, David Byrne came down to the band’s Oxford’s studio to interview Thom Yorke. The interview for WIRED is now online, where they talk about Radiohead’s untraditional release.

Byrne: Do you know, more or less, where your income comes from? For me, it’s probably very little from actual music or record sales. I make a little bit on touring and probably the most from licensing stuff. Not for commercials — I license to films and television shows and that sort of thing.

Yorke: Right. We make some doing that.

Byrne: And for some people, the overhead for touring is really low, so they make a lot on that and don’t worry about anything else.

Yorke: We always go into a tour saying, “This time, we’re not going to spend the money. This time we’re going to do it stripped down.” And then it’s, “Oh, but we do need this keyboard. And these lights.” But at the moment we make money principally from touring. Which is hard for me to reconcile because I don’t like all the energy consumption, the travel. It’s an ecological disaster, traveling, touring.

Byrne: Well, there are the biodiesel buses and all that.

Yorke: Yeah, it depends where you get your biodiesel from. There are ways to minimize it. We did one of those carbon footprint things recently where they assessed the last period of touring we did and tried to work out where the biggest problems were. And it was obviously everybody traveling to the shows.

Byrne: Oh, you mean the audience.

Yorke: Yeah. Especially in the US. Everybody drives. So how the hell are we going to address that? The idea is that we play in municipal places with some transport system alternative to cars. And minimize flying equipment, shipping everything. We can’t be shipped, though.

Byrne: [Laughs.]

Yorke: If you go on the Queen Mary or something, that’s actually worse than flying. So flying is your only option.

Byrne: Are you making money on the download of In Rainbows?

Yorke: In terms of digital income, we’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever — in terms of anything on the Net. And that’s nuts. It’s partly due to the fact that EMI wasn’t giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff.

Read the full interview (with audio clips)

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  • Thanks for posting this. Nice long clips, too! NY Times could learn something from this. Not downloadable, though….:(

  • Brilliant article!! I adore what they are doing. Bless them.

  • What do you think?
    Have the concerts they have filmed and recorded for live feed. I would pay ten to twenty dollars for a live concert for the sake of their feelings to the enviroment and their conciences. I live in California USA, and they are right… We drive a car to get the mail at the end of our street(unconfortable laugh). If Radiohead won’t come to visit… MAKE IT LIVE.

  • they should play in my little village…then I could walk to the concerts.

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