If you’re a Radiohead fan wondering why some old B-sides and special-edition album tracks have disappeared from Spotify…
You’re not alone. And it’s other digital music services too. But don’t jump to conclusions about this being the start of a wider takedown just yet.
Radiohead’s back catalogue remains on streaming services (bar their In Rainbows album, which has never been made available to stream), but it’s the basic versions of the albums rather than the special editions that their former label EMI released.
Why? The clue can be found at the bottom of those albums’ pages on Spotify: the label is now listed as XL Recordings. XL’s parent company Beggars Group declined to comment, but Spotify did have a statement on the changes.
“As a result of a change in rights ownership of Radiohead’s catalogue, the band’s catalogue on Spotify has been streamlined, meaning that a small number of products are no longer available,” said a Spotify spokesperson.
“However, the band’s core album catalogue remains available to their millions of fans on Spotify as before.”
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke famously described Spotify as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse” in 2013, criticising the streaming service as an unwanted new gatekeeper between musicians and their fans.
Under the terms of their deal with EMI, Radiohead could not decide whether or not their back catalogue was made available to stream – or, indeed, whether those albums were released in padded-out special editions.
If the catalogue is now with XL, which has released other music by Yorke in recent years, it’s reasonable to think that Radiohead will now have more control over how their music is packaged digitally – as well as which services it’s distributed through.
Yes, that could mean a Taylor Swift-style full-catalogue takedown, but that hasn’t happened: and the change of catalogue owner would have been the time to do it, if that was the band’s plan.
With the back catalogue still live on Spotify and other streaming services, this looks a more positive story: which could even mean In Rainbows finally making its streaming debut at some point, and perhaps some other band-approved remasters / re-releases of their older albums.
(As fans, count us excited about that prospect.)