Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thom Yorke Launches Music Streaming Service Mere Days After Criticizing Spotify

Tim Worstall/Forbes

My word, there really are some amazing coincidences in this modern world of ours, aren’t there? As I discussed yesterday Thom Yorke, of popular beat combos Radiohead and Atoms for Peace, has been criticising the royalty revenues that come from the music streaming service, Spotify. He thinks they’re too low, has withdrawn his own works from that distribution system and has been urging newer artists to do likewise.

Today I received an email from some PR bods suggesting that I would like to follow up this story. For, you see, Thom Yorke and his muckers in Atoms for Peace are backing a new music streaming service. From the email:
I know you’ve been following the Thom Yorke/Spotify saga, but I wanted to get in touch about a new service called soundhalo which is launching today in collaboration with Atoms for Peace. 
Soundhalo is a new platform which broadcasts high quality video and audio footage of live performances straight to your smartphone, desktop or tablet. Allowing fans to watch live music from concerts as it unfolds, the downloads give users the feeling of being at the show itself.
Isn’t that just the most amazingly stunning coincidence?

Of course, you’d have to be the most outrageously cynical person to believe that the two stories are connected. Telling everyone that Spotify really just wasn’t worth it while organising one’s own competing service. Far more cynical than I can manage to be myself, at least today that is.

My sort of cynicism runs along the lines of this all being a reverse ferret. All of us journalistic types leap in and point out the way in which there is no connection at all between slagging off Spotify and launching a competing product and this garners vastly more press coverage than yet another rather ho hum story about aging rocker launching marginally interesting online service. Yes, that’s it, that’s about my level of cynicism.

I have asked the PR people what is the royalty rate per stream on this new service but given that I’ve already told them the approach I’m likely to take to the announcement I’m not sure that I expect a response. And they did say this, this approach above, is unlikely to be the sort of coverage that they’d chase.

Which shows that I might be onto something really. What the PR agency wants printed is advertising. What the PR agency doesn’t want printed is more likely to be news.

Update: The PR agency has been in touch to ask that I clarify: Thom Yorke and Atoms for Peace are helping to launch this service, but it is an independent company. Further, it’s a slight variation on streaming. The archives will of course be streamed. But the original live gigs will actually be on a couple of minute delay to allow time for mixing and sound checks etc from the live gig before broadcast.

And as to royalties? “This has not been decided yet”. So apparently no one at all knows whether they’re higher or lower than Spotify.

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