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back to article Radiohead's Thom Yorke pulls his own music off Spotify

Thom Yorke of Radiohead has become the latest artist to withdraw from Spotify in protest at their paltry royalty payments. Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, a member of Yorke’s side project Atoms For Peace, announced the decision on Twitter, describing it as a “small meaningless rebellion.” Godrich explained that artists had …

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Spotify

". We've already paid US$500M to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US$1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music."

Maybe his beef is with the wrong people?

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Re: Spotify

I think it is more important to know how much Spotify actually took in and then deduct what was paid out...

500 Million sounds like a lot but it depends entirely on

* how many different bands it was paid out to

* How the pay outs are calculated - Do young bands get the same pecentages as U2 for example

* Over what period were the monies paid out.

* How much did spotify earn... HOW MUCH !!!!!!!!

* Who else is paid outside of the bands. ( promoters, agents, publicity etc ).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spotify

You don't often hear the artist complaining about the greed of their music label, or how little they actually receive from each album/single sale.

but as soon as someone isn't paying enough they're up in arms????

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Re: Spotify

The 500 million is the amount paid out to the rights holders not the artists, who may receive some small percentage of that - eventually. If they're lucky the amount they get will be in same ballpack as stated in their contract, although this will be almost impossible for them to ascertain without an expensive financial audit.

The rights holders turn out to be the major shareholders in Spotify..

The music business ended in the 1980s, its just business now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spotify

To be fair, if my employer stopped paying me and kept using my work, I'd be up in arms too.

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They do make it hard sometimes .....

...... as both sides just seem to whine about it all the time now. Some bands, such as Pearl Jam, have website features and connections with fans simply because they have ignored the big players, from bootlegs of their own concerts to a PJ radio station. There is nothing stopping the really big artists from getting together and creating their own services apart from their continuing reliance on the major labels to push their wares to the public.

Follow a band on Twitter or Facebook and there is very little chance you will miss new material, announcements of tours or anything else you wish to know. I always buy direct from the band if possible, if not then I go wild at the merch stand when I see them live.

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"What problems haven't been solved by more money entering the system?"

Inflation?

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Biting the hand...

Thom forgets that without some technology dudes in the middle, he would still be plucking on an acoustic six string in his garage. All the people that got his noise onto CDs and MP3s need paying as a result of HIS output because otherwise he'd have to sit at home burning copeis for his fans himself.

I hope he realises that just because you pay the piper and pick the tune, you don't own the concert hall or the CD replicator or the bandwidth. You want the big money, you NEED the big tech to distribute it.

Or is he saying he's fed up with having pots of cash to spend?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Biting the hand...

No, he's annoyed that when his fans order his merchandise by mail-order, 95% of the profit goes to the courier.

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Holmes

Re: Biting the hand...

To be honest, most business does put costs to the courier. If you need 1 dodicky and it's 2p, postage will still be the cost of a stamp/courier at the lest. "Profit" =/= "cost" or "net" etc etc though. If a business is not profitable, perhaps pull out? Stop making music? ;)

But to be constructive, if the courier charges too much, use a different service. What is Spotify charging the artists again? Or do you mean they are not paying enough advertising/subscription money to the artists? Hmmm, could be true. But can the artists make their own system? Perhaps (self hosting, gigs, self distribution etc). :)

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Ah, some good news.

A reason to sign up for Spotify now this pretentious little oik has flounced off.

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Anonymous Coward

"cannot work as a way of supporting "..

1) The coke I need to keep me going

2) The private jets that help keep my ego inflated

3) The entourage of people I need to keep my ego inflated

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "cannot work as a way of supporting "..

Of the bands you could suggest those thing about Radiohead don't appear on the list.

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Merely a gesture

The problem with protests like this - and Godrich's reference to it as a 'meaningless' protest highlight this accurately enough - is that not enough people will undertake such actions to make a difference. Yorke pulling his material isn't going to make a damn bit of difference. It might make him feel better for not supporting the model, but everyone else will continue to get bent over the desk and screwed six ways until Sunday for as long as Spotify deem worthwhile. Yes, their royalties are pathetic. Yes, artists know this. But it still remains a valid way to get exposure.

Ironically, the established artists are the ones most in position to do something about this. What would be so bad about a return to the eCommerce store hosted on an artists website? They're the ones with enough of the accursed 'market penetration' to get word out to fans that they'll only be retailing / streaming via their own websites.

Meanwhile everyone else will use Spotify et al as the exposure platforms they should be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Merely a gesture

Indeed, it's more or less what Valve did, I'm sure the group of "artists" listed could afford to come together and innovate a new model themselves and provide the financial backing to a development house?

O wait - all their money belongs to the labels as they had to borrow it like a prostitute borrowing crack from her pimp, "sure you can have 10 million dollars for a video, just sign here and pay the 50% compound interest, oh you want some pocket money to live the big life, here's another 50 million 1203%APR, don't worry about the small print baby"

and I suspect a large portion of their innovative minds are dedicated to moaning about how terrible life is living in a modern 1st world country, or some such. "o I'm so fucking miserable and hard done too and the world's so shit" or "don't worry I'll over come my hardship of having free full time education until the age of 18 and an nhs that will heal me, and all the other really difficult things in life"

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Re: Merely a gesture

"and I suspect a large portion of their innovative minds are dedicated to moaning about how terrible life is living in a modern 1st world country, or some such. "o I'm so fucking miserable and hard done too and the world's so shit" or "don't worry I'll over come my hardship of having free full time education until the age of 18 and an nhs that will heal me, and all the other really difficult things in life""

Dear AC, please fuck off with your pathetic "ooooh, I care about the the poor starving millions" bullshit.

The relative lack of starvation and the disease control of the Western world do not stop people from having difficult lives or, indeed, suffering from mental illness.

That's not to say that every whiny emo ponce out there has a pint but to invoke starvation and disease in the rest of the world to belittle artistic output and suggest that a millionaire cannot have a stressful life or suffer from depression or just plain heartache is as pathetically wishy-washy and bullshit as the worst teenage pity poem. Well, worse actually since hormones are bastards as we all know and teenage suicide is very real.

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Anonymous Coward

I read somewhere earlier today that an artist takes roughly £3800 per million plays of a track on spotify.

It wasn't clear if this was pre or post record companies taking a slice.

Expect it to drop more now as myspace seem to be providing a similar service free of charge. On desktop/laptops at least, seems to not want to stream to my tablet yet.

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That is a (rather high) estimate of the money paid to the rights holders, who in most cases are the label companies who are the major shareholders in Spotify. The artists may get some small fraction of this payment, probably 12 - 18 months later (industry standard). They will almost certainly be underpaid since the label will provide minimal information and the chances of an (ordinary) artist paying for a financial audit of the label company are negligible.

The major labels have finally realised that the internet offers them the chance to maximise their profits by controlling the complete distribution chain from product creation to the end user, with no middle men taking their cut, and they can use the low-cost / high-volume model to cut (ordinary) artist payments to the bone.

The few high-earning artists are of course also important; they keep the music-industry-is-special myth alive, tempting in new product creators; so the labels accept a smaller cut and put the difference down to marketing.

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we have been ripped off too long....

so either accept the royalties, or face the fact you wont get paid at all.

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Re: we have been ripped off too long....

You've been ripped off by the recording companies high prices, not the artists who've had their small cut reduced even further.

I don't see too much wrong with the Spotify model in theory. It just requires the delivery companies (and the recording companies who own them,) to realise that their value is derived from the content they provide and that if they don't pay the content producers enough to actually continue producing stuff, then their content delivery service will become redundant.

The recording companies seem to be finally bowing to public demand and reducing their prices (quite dramatically in the case of Spotify). The problem arises in that they have not adjusted the cuts of all those involved. They should have increased the artists' percentage (giving them a bigger slice of a smaller pie,) so that their job was still viable. Instead they've used the advent of a new delivery mechanism as a chance to aggressively renegotiate their position.

I swear to $deity, if someone replies to this and tries to argue that 'Mega-star X is still making millions even with their tiny share of the profits, therefore your argument is invalid,' even though they represent less that 0.1% of all artists, [Liam_Neeson] I will find you. [/Liam_Neeson]

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Mushroom

And nothing of value was lost...

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Devil

Is that a Radiohead song title?

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Megaphone

Hmm.

On one I had I absolutely support the artists in the royalty rate saga but on the other hand these artists took the devils payment when they signed with the money grabbing music companies. Spotify is partly owned by the big music companies so the blame while not completely absolving spotify, needs to go back to the labels the artists have signed with.

If I were a group of unhappy artists I would start my own streaming company purely for artists and have a sustainable model for payments to said artists. Trouble is, I suspect a lot of the bigger bands out there like the money that comes in from being signed to a big label - trouble is you cannot have it both ways.

BTW This in no way supports the behaviour of the labels, I personally think they are parasites, but hey.

On the artist side, I buy music from sites such as http://bandcamp.com which is direct from the artist and not a label.

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Says who?

"and has failed miserably in the one thing it had to do to justify its existence: convert free to paid customers"

Maybe. The true freetards were never going to pay in the first place, but I doubt they're using Spotify anyway, preferring instead to download torrents. I think the whining musos rather overlooks the extent to which Spotify is a try before you buy platform. I've bought more music in the few years I've had a (free) Spotify account than in the preceding decade, simply because I can explore stuff that I wouldn't hear or be able to find on radio, and because I don't get my fingers burned buying something on the strength of hearing a single track, only to find out the rest of the album's rubbish.

That won't be apparent to muso's through their Spotify revenues, but I daresay they'll happily bank the payments I make for CDs. For the "starving artist" category of musician, I'd suggest Spotify is exactly where you need to be, not because they'll make money there, but because people might hear it, like it, and talk about it, and subsequently buy it. Many seem happy enough to stick their music on Youtube for the same reason, for which they get nothing, what's so villainous about Spotify?

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142

Re: Says who?

Spotify does the opposite of stop piracy - it takes people like me, who bought £60-70 of cds every month, and stops them. I am now paying £10 per month for spotify instead. That's an 80% drop in income for the music industry as a whole from me.

That's not sustainable.

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Mushroom

Re: Says who?

Like radio before them, streaming services like Spotify and Pandora aren't there to support musicians directly. They are in the same domain of "free content" that the industry has always had since the dawn of broadcasting. The true value of any broadcast or streaming medium is the fact that it is getting you exposure.

No one will buy your stuff if they don't know about it.

People need to know about your stuff. Clear channel dominated radio is a dying dinosaur that may or may not give you any airtime. If you ever hope to sell another album again, you need an alternate promotional medium.

Musicians only harm themselves with this nonsense.

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Anonymous Coward

@JEDIDIAH

"Like radio before them, streaming services like Spotify and Pandora aren't there to support musicians directly. They are in the same domain of "free content" that the industry has always had since the dawn of broadcasting. The true value of any broadcast or streaming medium is the fact that it is getting you exposure."

Since you are completely ignorant of the ways in which radio stations and streaming services differ, your comment only serves to highlight your ignorance.

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Re: Says who?

"Spotify does the opposite of stop piracy - it takes people like me, who bought £60-70 of cds every month, and stops them. I am now paying £10 per month for spotify instead. That's an 80% drop in income for the music industry as a whole from me."

I don't think I've ever met anyone who spends that amount of money on CDs a month. Most people buy maybe one a month, if that. Many of those buy those stupid 'mix cds' like Now 75 etc... Whereas a streaming service provides more music, it also provides a steady income - removing more of the 'risk' when signing artists - variety becomes more important than specific artists. Spotify is better for the music because of this.

The business just needs to catch up, and figure out a way to ensure the artist gets paid properly too. It isn't Spotify's fault - its the labels who sell the music to them not coming up with a formula to properly fund the artists.

If Thom Yorke really thinks its a bad thing, Spotify, may I suggest that he puts his money where his mouth is and set up a competing service? Oh, he can't? Why? He doesn't have the experience, knowledge or skills to do so. The people at Spotify and the labels do, so shouldn't they get paid for providing the music and doing all the work advertising it?

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Re: Says who?

@142

Same here.

We have a paid for spotify account. Between spotify on any of the laptops, the tablet, a DAB radio, sky TV et al i've not paid for (other than minutely via my monthly subscriptions) any form of music for years. And that's without torrents etc, which, given the nature of spotify etc, are entirely too much like hard work to be worth it.

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Silver badge

"I don't think I've ever met anyone who spends that amount of money on CDs a month."

I did, before I had kids. I know lots of other people who did, too; some still do. You know: music fans. Don't assume everyone's the same as you.

> The business just needs to catch up, and figure out a way to ensure the artist gets paid properly too. It isn't Spotify's fault - its the labels who sell the music to them not coming up with a formula to properly fund the artists.

WTF? The labels' formulae are, obviously, based on the amount of money they're receiving for the music, which is being pushed down by Spotify.

> may I suggest that he puts his money where his mouth is and set up a competing service? Oh, he can't? Why?

Well, apart from the rather obvious point that he is putting his money where his mouth is by pulling out from a service that was making him some money, the key word there is "competing", isn't it? It's extremely difficult to set up a service that will compete with an established dominant industry player by paying more for your raw material. Not impossible, though: you could, for instance, try to encourage the providers of raw material not to do business with the established player. Oh, look! That's what Yorke is doing.

One of the big problems with the music business is that so much of the raw talent enters the industry seventeen years old and desperate, which makes it very easy to exploit by telling it things like "We won't pay you for this, but the exposure will be great for you," or, depressingly often, "It'll cost you £100 to play this gig and it'll be another £100 if you don't sell at least 50 tickets." The price of the talent and material is constantly being pushed down by the fact that these people are naive and know nothing whatsoever about work or business, so are very easily exploited. People who've been in the business a decade or three, like Yorke, are much more savvy and have far better record deals. Occasionally, some of them try to help younger artists by giving them business advice or setting up their own labels which give better deals. And, very occasionally, they do the one thing that the kids really badly need: they set an example. For an established (and, to many, cool) artist like Yorke to do this sends a great message to the kids: "No, you don't have to put up with this crap. Yes, you can turn down offers from people who are ripping you off. Yes, you can set the price of your own product." And the industry is well aware of how bad this sort of influence is for their appalling business model, which is why they've run such a successful propaganda campaign against anyone who does this: witness the fools who are convinced that artists can't survive without giving away their product. Other workers don't get this, you'll notice. "Unless nurses provide care to hundreds of people for free, how will the hospitals know how good they are? No hospital's going to hire a nurse without trying out the service first!"

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Re: Says who?

> They are in the same domain of "free content" that the industry has always had since the dawn of broadcasting.

My world-view can explain why Status Quo took legal action against the BBC when Radio 1 modernised and stopped playing hours of back-catalogue in the early Nineties. Yours can't.

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Anonymous Coward

Quality

I'm surprised no one actually mentions the level of quality of the audio product. There are several sites that now offer music in lossless, sometimes even in studio quality. Sure, they're a bit pricier than the mp3 version, but I do like to think that by buying a high-quality track I am both enhancing my enjoyment and supporting the artist. Is this something that only affects me?

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Re: Quality

"'m surprised no one actually mentions the level of quality of the audio product. "

Really? Spotify streams at 160Kbps Ogg for the non-paying users, and 320Kbps Ogg for the paying users.

Knowing that the majority of people these days listen to music on mobile phones with crappy earphones, spotify offers bandwidth far in excess of what most people would require.

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Pirate

"[or]else new music producers should be bold and vote with their feet."

Like many potential customers already do with the industry already.

Overpriced music

little of this going to the artists

DRM

128 kbit/s mp3 downloads

...

...

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You might have a point with 'Overpriced music' and you certainly have a point with 'little of this going to the artists'. 'DRM' and '128 kbit/s mp3 downloads' reveals your pirate colours though. Seriously, when was the last time you even looked at the specs of a legit music download?

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Thumb Up

You might have a point with 'Overpriced music' and you certainly have a point with 'little of this going to the artists'. 'DRM' and '128 kbit/s mp3 downloads' reveals your pirate colours though. Seriously, when was the last time you even looked at the specs of a legit music download?

I agree. All the downloads that I purchase are .flac

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Anonymous Coward

You would think that all of the big music artists could get together and form some sort of group to ensure they get paid well?

Or is that the RIAA who are very good at collecting the money but not dishing it out to its members.

At the end of the day you can have 100% of nothing or a few percent of something. Which are you going to accept?

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Anonymous Coward

iRadio

Will be interesting to see if Radiohead content will be available on itunes radio.

Wouldnt be at all surprised if Apple have offered some big name artists some favourable terms in return for exclusive rights.

Maybe we'll see a number of big name artists withdraw from spotify in the next few weeks.

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Anonymous Coward

I paid £7.99 for In Rainbows when they did the pay what you think's fair thing.

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I didn't pay anything for In Rainbows, until it was released on CD and then I bought it. It's one of my most listened to albums and I would have gladly paid more than the 15 quid or so it cost me.

I've said previously on here that the music should be the advert for the real money making stuff such as gigs and merchandising. I got seriously down voted for that, but I still believe it to be true to an extent. That said I'm certainly not a freeloader, and do buy 95% of the music that I listen to, the other 5% tends to come from friends on USB sticks.

I do buy a lot from iTunes as it appears that Apple have let in a lot of musicians publishing under their own label and quite frankly it's a lot less hassle than trying to hunt down some of the more obscure stuff in record shops that, sadly, are dying as a result of the fact that even ageing hipsters like myself can't find anything other than mainstream in the bricks and mortar places

Anyway on to Tom Yorke. He's right. Here with have Spotify who are in effect monetising their business by streaming works of artists who are in turn paid an absolute pittance either individually, or through their associated record company (who I'm sure has negotiated far better terms than the individual). That's what I would consider a leech. At least the vast majority of torrenters don't try to make money out of their ill gotten gains.

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JDX
Gold badge

"Meanwhile, millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all."

A million people listening to your song on the radio in the UK gets you something like £100.

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Re: "Meanwhile, millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all."

Yeah, it's a tricky one. It doesn't seem quite fair to compare a million streaming instances with just one or two radio airplays, but it can't be right either to compare a million streams with a million broadcasts. I think everyone involved would agree that the correct figure has to be somewhere inbetween; they just can't agree exactly where.

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Re: "Meanwhile, millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all."

A million people listening to your song on the radio in the UK gets you something like £100.

Each play. There's usually more than one. I guess if there's more than 38 plays (which seems likely for a popular song) then you're ahead?

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Facepalm

Re: "Meanwhile, millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all."

Probably, yes, each play, but each stream is also one play.

He's comparing a broadcast with unicast. The broadcast might reach ten thousand people and so is equivalent to ten thousand streams (depending on the radio audience). 38 radio plays by would be equivalent to 3.8 million streams.

The difference in revenue is likely that there are a lot more people who listen to radio than listen to Spotify. Spotify might have ten million people, but radio has over two hundred million in the US alone.

He's probably getting paid a heck of a lot more per listener than for his radio audience.

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Paris Hilton

According to the BBC he tweeted "Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no[t] get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples."

Simples? Yeah, you stick it to the man, Thom.

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Anonymous Coward

It's probably far worse then pirate - as the conversion numbers are probably far higher for pirates, when people use spotify why would they ever buy the tracks as they're already listening to it legit and may even be paying for it.

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Facepalm

Really? I'll hold you to that one...

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5p per play on the radio for 100 plays. 0.01p per play for a billion plays on the internet.

I know that an industry can under pay and over charge, but I'd doubt something that is free to distribute, where the industry is paying the distribution costs for you, is one you should back out of when they offer to pay you something for your work... is it?

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WTF?

"5p per play on the radio for 100 plays."

Lots of commenters on this thread have been bandying these insanely low made-up figures around. For the record (ha!), the BBC pay over £15 a minute. Perhaps that figure lends enough context to what the argument is actually about for you to understand it.

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