“Burn The Witch” - Radiohead’s latest single - is finally out. After the band’s website and social media presence ‘faded away’ into white, indicating that something was stirring, the single made its appearance on YouTube, followed a few hours later by all other digital services.
Radiohead’s decision to release on YouTube first has taken many by surprise, considering the harsh words that Thom Yorke had for the platform just last year: “All I know is that they make money from the work of many artists who do not derive any benefit. Service providers make money: Google, YouTube. A lot of money. ‘Oh, sorry, it was yours? Now it is ours. No, no, we are joking, it is always yours,’ They seize it. It’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.”
In just a few short months the service went from being responsible for "seizing" artist's money to being Radiohead's platform of choice for new music, which is strange.
The song is now live on Spotify too - a service Yorke called “the last, desperate fart of a dying corpse” in 2013.
So, what changed? It’s hard to tell. Maybe Yorke changed his mind, maybe his bandmates told him that this was the only way to get the music heard by as many people as possible. Maybe there is more than one layer to the title “Burning The Witch” and the tweeting bird in the video represents social media? Until the band starts talking to the press, it will be impossible to figure out how the decision came about.
Regardless, it’s nice to see Radiohead back in the driving seat and sharing music in with the world. As for the album release, just as the single came as a surprise, it is not difficult to imagine that the band will also release the album as a surprise sometime over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, “Burn The Witch” has already racked up 3.3 million views on YouTube.