Oh, Dear. Thom Yorke Just Compared the Music Industry to Nazi Germany

You may have heard of Godwin’s Law, an adage set down by Michael Godwin in about 1990 when observing flame battles on USENET groups. It states that given enough time, any online discussion will at some point invoke the name of Hitler and/or Nazis: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.”

Once you pass that threshold, the thread is done. There’s nowhere else to go. Civil discourse has been destroyed, usually along with the credibility of the person making the comparison. Listen, people: there’s precious little in the everyday world that can be legitimately compared to the Nazis. They were that horrible and evil.

Someone needs to take Thom Yorke aside and explain this. He’s just become a poster child for Godwin’s Law with his latest, um, strong pronouncements which came during an interview with the Italian newspaper Repubblica. It would be nice to blame the comments on a mistranslation, but not this time. Here’s what he said when asked about his music listening habits.

I don’t use YouTube, that’s for sure.  Although … a friend of mine told me [about] this app to skip commercials on YouTube….The funny thing is that YouTube has said: ‘Hey, this is not [fair’]. You know, they say that is not [fair]. They put that before any advertising content making a lot of money and the artists are not paid or are paid ridiculous sums – and apparently this is fine for them.

Fair enough. But then he really gets wound up when the interviewer broached the subject of how musicians earn an income these days. Here’s the Google translation:

I do not know, you tell me. I do not have the solution to these problems. All I know is that you make money with the work of many artists who do not derive any benefit. It continues to say that it is a time when the music is free, the film is free. It’s not true. Service providers make money. Google. YouTube. A lot of money, doing trawling, like the ocean, take everything there is dragging. ‘Oh, sorry, it was not yours? Now is ours. No, no, we joke, is always yours’. They are seized. It’s like what they did the Nazis during the Second World War. Indeed, they did all during the war, the British also: steal the art to other countries. What’s the difference?

So there’s no difference between the people who run the music industry and genocidal maniacs looking to create a master race? Oh, dear, Thom. Probably not the best comparison. While there are plenty of problems for musicians today, this kind of hyperbole won’t advance your arguments effectively.

(Via Music Business Worldwide)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

4 thoughts on “Oh, Dear. Thom Yorke Just Compared the Music Industry to Nazi Germany

  • December 1, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Click bait for sure. His comparison is valid. Comparing the acts of Nazi Germany based on evidence is acceptable. Invoking fascism as a debating tactic is not.

  • December 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I think his comparison is a bit “strong.” I know for a fact that Walk Off The Earth makes a lot of money with their very inventive YouTube videos, which is probably the only thing that keeps that band going. As a working musician since 1979, I have made very little from my recordings, but have done quite well performing live, and unless you are a major star that is the only way to make good money right now. Lots of people make good money from YouTube if they can garner enough followers and hits. I wish I was one of them, honestly. I could retire. Radiohead doesn’t work very hard at what they do. They take a long time between records, they purposely go out of their way to make a lot of stuff that is not commercial or radio-friendly, and Thom himself is one of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen. He makes Morrissey look like an amateur. They also hardly ever tour. which is where the big money is. My two cents – don’t get mad at me! 🙂

  • December 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Just another old bitter musician. Yes youtube could probably give a better cut to the musicians…but they are the only site that actually cuts their content providers in.


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