Has Thom Yorke just become the saviour of music? Makes US$20m from legal downloads

6 Jan 2015

Artist Thom Yorke, of Radiohead fame, may have just saved music creation – for the creators. It has emerged that Yorke may have made as much as US$20m from legally downloaded BitTorrent Bundle songs.

Yorke has just been recognised as the most legally downloaded artist on BitTorrent in 2014, which is quite an achievement considering his latest solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, was only released in September.

The album was downloadable for stg£3.86 and by the end of the year it was downloaded 4.4m times, with 90pc of the sales revenue going directly to the artist.

Sell your art, not your soul

For some time now the real people at the heart of the music industry – the musicians – haven’t really been party to the conversation about saving the music industry, or let’s say their music.

They weren’t consulted when Napster was the cat among the pigeons in the late 1990s. They were barely consulted when Steve Jobs and various music labels unveiled iTunes and they had Taylor Swift take Spotify to task this year over sharing revenue with artists.

But now it appears artists and creators can be in control of their own destiny, as Yorke has proved using the BitTorrent Bundle approach and showing how revenues from legal downloads can be returned to the creators.

According to the BitTorrent report for 2014 a new pact has been established between artist and fan. Consumers want more and the most searched for word in 2014 was “culture.”

BitTorrent says the current movement is about finding common ground – that every conversation about music or film is also a conversation about belonging.

Currently other artists embarking on the same path as Yorke include Diplo, Asking Alexandria, Skrillex and many more.

“If it works,” Thom wrote, “anyone can do exactly as we’ve done.”

Thom Yorke image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years