Unreleased Radiohead Tracks Hacked and Held for $150,000 Ransom
Acclaimed alternative rock group Radiohead has defied the demands of a hacker who hacked its frontman’s music collection and demanded a six-figure ransom.
Rather than bow down to the anonymous hacker’s demands, the group released eighteen-hours of previously secretive tracks after the hacker compromised singer Thom Yorke’s musical archives, demanding a ransom to be paid to keep the tracks secret.
Rather than pay the anonymous hacker the $150,000 ransom, the band elected to release Yorke’s minidisk collection of eighteen recordings - most of which are up to an hour in length each - available for the public to purchase, foiling the hacker’s original plan, and donating all the proceeds raised to a climate awareness body.
The 1.8-gigabyte collection is available on Bandcamp with a description written by Yorke himself. “We’ve been hacked,” he said, touting the sale of “my archived mini discs from 1995-1998(?).”
Radiohead’s guitarist, Johnny Greenwood confirmed the hack while announcing that “instead complaining,” the band would be “releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion,” a well-known climate activist group.
“Just for the next 18 days,” Greenwood continued. “So for £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom. Never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reach the cassette in the OK Computer reissue) it’s only tangentially interesting. And very, very long,” he said.
Whispers of the hack first popped up on Reddit last week, where a user purported they were offered the opportunity to buy secret tracks. “We originally considering pooling our money together, as our enthusiasm over the rare opportunity to share material of such high historical interest for a band we love peaked, but we were concerned about the ethics of the situation,” they wrote.
“According to [the leaker], they got the whole 18 hours of material by trading some other rare/unreleased material for it,” the reddit user said.
Extinction Rebellion has thanked Radiohead for their “unprecedented support.”
“The climate and ecological emergency demands courage, truth-telling and generosity like never before,” the group wrote. “We are so grateful to Radiohead for showing us how that’s done, both now and in the lead-up to the April rebellion.”
“Words are inadequate but actions do change the world,” the group added.