Yes, here we go again. Radiohead’s ‘pay-what-you-want’ model for the release of ‘In Rainbows’, now two years ago, is still a topic of discussion. Tom Smith from Editors thinks releasing the tracks for free was selfish.
Recently the debate on file-sharing has started again, including Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, who is a director on the board of the Featured Artists Coalition. Last month, Ed has hit out at the UK government’s plan to cut off the internet access of persistent illegal file-sharers: “It’s going to start a war which they’ll never win.” The FAC said “heavy-handed” tactics may turn fans away from music for good.
No other than Lily Allen replied, saying that music piracy is having a dangerous effect on British music and referring to Ed O’Brien and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason: “It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file sharing is a disaster as it’s making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge.”
Now Editors’ Tom Smith joined the discussion by saying that letting fans pay nothing for the record conflicts with their campaign on encouraging people to pay for music, because by giving it away for free, it created an unfair standard, when unsigned indie bands are struggling to make money from their craft.
Tom Smith backs Ed O’Brien, but told BBC 6 Music: “It’s a weird thing to say that but in giving it away for free, it didn’t feel like it had any connection to the bigger problem and it was selfish. But it wasn’t like they started it, it was a continuation of an ongoing problem.”
The Editors frontman continues: “I do think it is important to make a stand,” he said. “What I find hard is that, paying for music doesn’t seem normal any more. It’s like music is just background, you can just grab bits and pieces rather than an album as a whole, but I think the big artists have a responsibility for the smaller artists, to speak up when things are going wrong. I also find it weird that they gave their album away for free. I think that’s in direct conflict to that.”
Update:Later, Tom Smith added that his comments were not a personal attack on Radiohead, but that giving away ‘In Rainbows’ did not help in tackling downloading: “All this debate… it’s hard getting involved because I don’t offer a solution,” he told NME Radio DJ Iain Baker. “I’m not saying they [Radiohead] started a problem, I’m not spearheading a campaign against them. The problem is devaluing music. Radiohead gave away their record for free… big bands have responsibility for small bands.”