January 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Why Isn’t Radiohead’s In Rainbows on Spotify?

radiohead in rainbows spotify

I can see In Rainbows in my version of Spotify, but it's grayed out because the files are MP3s on my local machine. Facebook doesn't know if I play them.

It’s 2013, which means nearly five years have past since Radiohead became the story in digital music by releasing its stunning In Rainbows album on the band’s website for any price the customer was willing to pay — including nothing at all.

Giving away a download version of a complete album is a big deal, especially when the people doing it don’t belong to one of the countless bands who would do anything just to get someone, anyone, to listen, but were arguably the biggest band in the world.

However, you won’t find In Rainbows on Spotify, even though the service offers 13 other full-length Radiohead releases (one song, “Bodysnatchers,” is there on a compilation). Why wouldn’t In Rainbows be available for free on Spotify, given that it was the most notorious free music giveaway of all time — as a permanent download, no less?

Radiohead owns the sound recording rights to this album (Warner/Chappell owns the publishing) unless something has changed, so it’s almost certainly the band’s decision where it is distributed. We figured maybe Thom, Jonny and the rest just don’t like streaming services, which is their prerogative. However, In Rainbows is on Rhapsody, Rdio, and MOG. Heck, it’s even on YouTubethe whole album, as a single file, multiple times.

So… why is In Rainbows out of Spotify? We put the question to Radiohead’s publicist yesterday, who has been responsive in the past, but they have yet to answer (we’ll update this if we hear back).

In the absence of a comment, there’s little left to do but speculate, so we’ll do that now. Our somewhat wild guess, given the evidence at hand: Thom Yorke just doesn’t like Spotify for some reason — possibly its large valuation, or the fact that it could pull in a billion in revenue this year even as some artists complain about payouts.

Update: Spotify spokesman assures us that this has nothing to do with Thom Yorke’s feelings about Spotify, and everything to do with “a very tricky performing rights issue that we are working through.  When you’re in as many countries as we are it’s far more complex for this one. ” In other words, stay tuned; they’re working on it.

  • Oliver Stevenson

    Ah, that was good timing of you, I was only just Googling to see why this was, it’s been irritating me for months that everything is on there besides that album, and it’s one of my favourites too.

  • http://www.bdwrekordings.com/ Barry Euphorik

    Could be a number of reasons.

    Maybe they dont see the point in putting an album up if people are gonna get it for free by providing an email address they could use to promote future projects. Maybe they don’t like the revenue generated from streaming services. Or as you say they may not like Spotify full stop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JillFleischmann Jill Fleischmann’s Mind

    maybe spotify miss spelled radiohead or added “the”. Have you tried searching for “the radiohead”?

  • Bart

    It’s available on Rdio: http://rd.io/x/QGtNPk1s9w

  • take_it_back

    maybe if they’ll use spotify for publishing it they will make money out of it, spotify will make money out of it- they wanted it to be as free as it takes, no strings attached.

  • Dave

    It’s not on Spotify because it’s the only album not to be released by EMI. I’m pretty sure the record label decides whats on Spotify. Sames goes for the zune music pass. Record label owns the rights to the music

  • Harrisson

    The King Of Limbs was not released by EMI, it was self-released and yet it is on Spotify.

  • http://twitter.com/twisted_words Elly

    Not true. They released it as an experiment to see how much people would pay for music – they were trying to determine the value of an album. They’ve moved on now.

  • Gman

    this will never be on spotify as long as the band has rights to it. thom yorke hates Spotify, which he has made publicly known a few time recently

  • musiclvr

    I have asked this quest multiple time. Even though I have bought every album they have(disk. I like to hold it in my hand and look through the art work.) I would still like it to be available on spotify, especially since I have spotify premium for my phone. I just wish I could add a few of their songs from In Rainbows to my list of music. Thank you for this article. Now, if someone could just tell me why Portishead’s song Glory Box studio versipn is also not available on Spotify when every other song is Portishead has made.

  • R

    Well your prediction was right seeing as Thom just removed most of his solo work from spotify to make a point!