After Calling Sean Parker a Greedy ‘Asshole,’ The Black Keys License Spotify

The Black Keys: The Finally Licensed Spotify
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Did the Black Keys just sell their souls to Spotify?  Yes, but it’s for a good cause.  It’s called ‘keeping a music career alive’.

For years, the Black Keys have been blasting Spotify for short-changing artists and devaluing music.  Drummer Patrick Carney has even criticized co-founders Daniel Ek and Sean Parker for exploiting artists while minting billions.

He even called Sean Parker an ‘asshole’ who was ‘stealing royalties,’ while also slamming CEO Daniel Ek.

Here’s an interview Carney gave to WGRD at the time.

Dave Kim (WGRD): “You and [guitarist/vocalist] Dan [Auerbach] have said before that it’s not monetarily beneficial to stream your whole album on things like Spotify.  Sean Parker, who started Napster and he’s a board member for Spotify, said last week at SXSW that Spotify will generate more revenue for the music industry in two years than iTunes.  Do you believe him?”

Carney: “No.”

Kim: “How come?”

Carney: “Because he’s an asshole.  The guy has $2.5 billion he made from figuring out ways to steal royalties from artists, and that’s the bottom line. You can’t really trust anybody like that.”

Since that point, the streaming giant has done little to change its artist compensation plans.  Artists are still getting micro-pennies, if they’re getting paid at all.  Major labels continue to sign secretive, non-transparent deals, while allegedly never paying their own artists.

So why are the Black Keys suddenly licensing Spotify?

Fast-forward to 2016, and the Black Keys are now placing their entire catalog on Spotify.  And not just a little bit: the band’s entire back catalog is now available on the service. “After five years of struggling with this we agreed to put the keys songs on Spotify. I’d rather people hear our music than not,” Carney tweeted his fans on Monday.  “No advance or money was exchanged. I’m still an advocate for artists to be paid fairly. I’m still apprehensive.”

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Compared to the fighting words of past, Carney now sounds like a neutered tiger.  “My whole thing about music is: if somebody’s making money then the artist should be getting a fair cut of it,” blasted to the Seattle Times back in 2014. “The owner of Spotify is worth something like 3 billion dollars… he’s richer than Paul McCartney and he’s 30 and he’s never written a song.”

Then again, a lot has changed in just a few years.  Five years ago, streaming was just emerging as a viable replacement to song downloading.  Now, iTunes music download sales are in an absolute tailspin, with Spotify amassing tens of millions of new users every year.

Meanwhile, Apple has shifted its energy to streaming-based Apple Music, while rumors suggest a near-term shutdown of its paid download store.  Amazon, the other big player in song downloads, is now pushing a serious streaming music competitor and bundling it into Prime.

But the bigger problem is this: fans come and go.  And a lot more of them are going to streaming for discovery, access, and information on their favorite artists.  Skip Spotify, and you’re now skipping millions of potential fans.  Which might explain why even the biggest Spotify critics, including Neil Young and Radiohead, are now giving in to streaming.

Boycott Spotify, and you might as well be boycotting your entire career.

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Yep. And they still won’t get paid because you were too stupid to demand a government mandated royalty amount for streaming.

    I. Told. You. So.

    You dummies don’t deserve to get paid. Darwin strikes again.

    • Adam

      Why should the government set prices for streaming? Do you want them to set the price of your bread or coffee as well?

      • Anonymous

        Your strawman is a red flag that you know you have no argument.

        Plays from streaming deserve a mandated royalty rate just as radio plays do.

        But musicians are idiots that let people pick their pocket on an hourly basis, so that isn’t likely to happen now.

        If you want to get rich, just start a record label. You’ll never have to give the musicians anything.

    • Bobo

      You think a Republican US congress will side with musicians? It’s the fault of the corporations who let someone like Spotify take over their business. Hollywood hasnt been this stupid, but the people who ran the music industry were idiots. And I thought they had mafia-level power. Daniel Eck and Parker should be living in fear for the money they stole, but noone in the music biz ever held them responsible.

  2. TheFuturist

    Notice how all these bands are coming back to Spotify? First Radiohead, then Neil Young, now The Black Keys, and pretty soon Taylor Swift will too. You heard it hear first. Bow down and kiss Spotify’s ass like you were meant to do.

  3. Me

    Their back catalog (albums/eps before El Camino) have been on Spotify this whole time, as have all the singles from the last two albums. They probably noticed they were actually getting some decent money on those half a billion streams.

  4. HansH

    “Boycott Spotify, and you might as well be boycotting your entire career.”

    I never thought I would live to see you write such a line Paul.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Not saying it’s right. But that’s the power dynamic now. Spotify wins.

      • Troglite

        That aligns with my personal interpretation of Patrick”s comments. He clearly continues to feel that what these streaming technology businesses is unethical and that governmental efforts to change these business practices have been inadequate. What seems to have changed is the perspective that music fans/consumers are caught in the middle, which harms their ability to access the Black Keys music. With no reason to believe change will come quickly despite their efforts to resist, it seems that the group decided reducing the negative impacts on their fans was more important than continuing what was little more than a symbolic gesture.

  5. FarePlay

    Hate to sound like the other guy who always has a solution, but here’s mine. Window every ‘complete’ new release for a minimum of 4 weeks on all streaming services. At release provide them with 1 or 2 tracks for streaming.

    End unlimited free streaming subscriptions

    Pass legislation that curtails ‘safe harbor’ abuse.

    It will be impossible to sell music if fans can get it for free easily. Yes, sales of physical recordings and paid downloads will probably continue to decline, but no need to accelerate its’ disappearance.

  6. No More Bozos

    Wow! Ungrateful losers. Don’t have to work, have fun playing music all day, and still biting the hands that feed them. I have a solution…get a real job. Then you will have the justification to complain – This guy is another abortion that should have happened.