In late 2011, The Black Keys released the soon-to-be classic album "El Camino", a record so well-received that we here at Music Forte declared it the year's best despite some very stiff competition. We were slightly confused, however, when we noticed that the record was nowhere to be found on Spotify, the streaming music service that's been making waves since its US debut last year. While every other Black Keys album is available to subscribers, we didn't quite get why "El Camino" wasn't.
This week, The Black Keys have decided to shed a little light on their reticence.
"If it was fair to the artist, we would be involved in it," Patrick Carney said. "I imagine if Spotify becomes something that people are willing to pay for, then I'm sure iTunes will just create their own service, and they're actually fair to artists."
Spotify currently has just over 3 million paid subscribers, shelling out $4.99-$9.99 a month for various tiers of access to the service. The RIAA issued a statement this week applauding the reported statistical growth attributed to Internet streaming.
“Access models like subscription services and Internet radio (represented by digital performance royalties) have continued to grow both in popularity as well as in their revenue contribution to the industry,” said the RIAA statement. “No longer just a niche, digital music has shown it can be a model — or perhaps more accurately a variety of models — for the music industry going forward.”
Spotify is one of the first legal alternatives for would-be music pirates to gain any commercial traction, supporters say. Napster co-founder Sean Parker is a heavy investor in the company and a member of its board of directors. In recent interviews, Parker has declared that Spotify will earn more money for music labels and musicians than iTunes within two years. The Black Keys are vocal about their distaste for Parker and his theories.
"He's an asshole," Carney said. "That guy has $2 billion that 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. The idea of a streaming service, like Netflix for music, I'm not totally against it. It's just we won't put all of our music on it until there are enough subscribers for it to make sense.