In a show of what campaigners called “unprecedented support” for the global climate action movement, British rock band Radiohead turned a ransom demand by hackers into an opportunity to support the growing Extinction Rebellion movement.
After an unnamed hacker stole 18 previously-unreleased recordings from files owned by lead singer Thom Yorke, the band announced that it would not pay the $150,000 the hacker was demanding for ransom.
Instead of allowing the hacker to release the material, Radiohead released the recordings itself on the music platform Bandcamp, allowing listeners to buy the songs for £18 ($23), with all proceeds going to the global grassroots organization Extinction Rebellion.
“Instead of complaining—much—or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion,” Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood wrote on social media.
— Jonny Greenwood (@JnnyG) June 11, 2019
Radiohead’s decision to support and call attention to Extinction Rebellion served as an opportunity for the climate campaign to share its work with the public as well as adding to its funds as it organizes direct actions in more than 50 countries around the world.
“Sending a massive thank you to Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead,” wrote Extinction Rebellion on Twitter, posting a link to its website where supporters can learn about upcoming direct actions taking place all over the world.
Sending a massive thank you to @JnnyG and @radiohead. To get involved in the rebellion, check out https://t.co/PzxBohj9iu. A thank you from us is here – https://t.co/u5etJqdCQA #ExtinctionRebellion #Radiohead https://t.co/QdqgADhN1L
— Extinction Rebellion 🐾⌛️🌱 (@ExtinctionR) June 11, 2019
“The climate and ecological emergency demands courage, truth-telling, and generosity like never before. We are so grateful to Radiohead for showing us how that’s done,” wrote the group on its website. “Words are inadequate but actions do change the world.”
In a tweet, Rolling Stone magazine pointed readers to information about Extinction Rebellion’s public actions:
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) June 11, 2019
Other supporters praised Radiohead on social media.
Got to love @Radiohead. Thom Yorke gets hacked and 18 minidisc files of OK Computer sessions are stolen (lasting 15 hours). Thieves demand $150k ransom. What does band do? Releases all 18 themselves for £18 for 18 days with profits going to Extinction Rebellion. Class response. pic.twitter.com/6NkemhTRfT
— James Hall (@JamesFHall) June 11, 2019
Radiohead are so fucking cool. https://t.co/tPqOoS3yY6
— Ralf Little (@RalfLittle) June 11, 2019
Hackers steal Radiohead demos circa OK Computer and threaten to release them unless they're paid off.
The band responds by announcing to fans, in an email referencing the Big Lebowski, that the demos are now on sale and will benefit a group working to protect endangered species. https://t.co/psBySjQO2d
— Corbin Hiar (@CorbinHiar) June 11, 2019
Radiohead hasa history of support for environmental protection causes, performing at events for the group Friends of the Earth and urging former U.S. President Barack Obama to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.
The band also permitted Extinction Rebellion to use one of its songs in a promotional video.
The climate action campaign spent more than a week occupying major landmarks in London and in other U.K. cities, with more than 1,000 people being arrested as they demanded that government leaders declare a climate and ecological emergency and act immediately to end greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.