Roger Waters is the latest artist to slam streaming music as the Pink Floyd great accused Silicon Valley execs of being “rogues and thieves” for the way they have reshaped the music industry. In a new interview, Waters talks about how difficult it is for an artist to thrive in an age where their music is nearly given away. He also clearly states that, for him, a Pink Floyd reunion “is out of the question.”
“I feel enormously privileged to have been born in 1943 and not 1983,” Waters told the Times UK (via NME). “To have been around when there was a music business and the takeover by Silicon Valley hadn’t happened, and in consequence, you could still make a living writing and recording songs and playing them to people. When this gallery of rogues and thieves had not yet injected themselves between the people who aspire to be creative and their potential audience and steal every fucking cent anybody ever made.”
Waters joins a growing number of artists who have either spoken out against Spotify and its ilk or who have pulled their catalogs from the services entirely. Much of the debate over streaming music centers around the low pay-per-stream these services offer artists while the services themselves rack up profits in subscriptions and advertising. “The amounts these services pay per stream is minuscule – their idea being that if enough people use the service those tiny grains of sand will pile up,” David Byrne wrote in his own criticism of Spotify.
Waters’ comments are also similar to those made by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, who faulted Apple over the way U2’s Songs of Innocence was distributed. “Look, U2 are a great band, and Bono’s an extraordinary individual, so this isn’t an anti-U2 tirade,” Mason said. “But it highlights a vital aspect to the whole idea of music in the 21st century. What’s also interesting is that Apple seem to have got off scot-free. No one’s blaming them. Apple has done great things, but it has also contributed to the devaluation process [of music].”
Following the release of Pink Floyd’s The Endless River, guitarist David Gilmour repeatedly stated in interviews that the LP would mark the final chapter in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s story. However, the Times UK asked Waters whether he could rejoin Gilmour and Mason in the future, and the bassist reiterated that his Floyd days are over.
“A reunion is out of the question,” Waters said. “Life after all gets shorter and shorter the closer you get to the end of it and time becomes more and more precious and in my view should be entirely devoted to doing the things you want to do. One can’t look backwards.”
Last October, after Waters was barraged with questions about The Endless River, he wrote a note on Facebook alerting fans, “I am not part of Pink Floyd. I left Pink Floyd in 1985, that’s 29 years ago.” Waters is currently working on a reissued, remixed version of his 1992 solo album Amused to Death.