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 YouTube — the 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.