Dear The Black Keys,
You all right? How’s things? Getting pretty famous over there, I noticed. Congratulations! No seriously, you deserve it. I still remember the first time I heard “I’ll Be Your Man.” I was still a teenager and it was definitely one of those songs that changed me, especially after growing up in a rock-centric household with my parents breeding me on the likes of Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen as well as a constant serving of the blues. So yeah, you’re rock — classic rock, organic rock, non-pretentious, no bullsh*t rock.
Which is why I’m slightly confused about your decision not to release your new album, El Camino, on music sharing devices like Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG and Rdio because you believe it will eat into your album sales. I know you gotta eat, blah blah, but since when is a #1 record of more importance to The Black Keys than the music and the fans? Strategic chart climbing just isn’t very rock’n’roll now, is it? Why are you suddenly so concerned with being the biggest rock band in the world? Why are you no longer happy to simply be the best rock band in the world?
I’m not going to be the girl that cried “sell out” because I’ve heard snippets from the new album, including “Lonely Boy” and “Gold On The Ceiling,” and musically you’re as true to yourselves as you’ve ever been. I guess that’s what makes this so frustrating, really — the album seems to be just as deliciously raw as anything you’ve presented before, and I want in!
Yes, I know I can just buy the album, but it’s really not that simple, and I’m going to tell you why. Firstly, I am truly a product of my generation, and I have forgotten how to use CDs. And considering CDs still haven’t reached “nostalgia cool” yet, like vinyl and VHS, I have no interest in revisiting the outdated technology. Basically, if it doesn’t come from the Internet, I don’t want to know. The only person I know likely to buy your CD is my dad — you don’t want to be a lame dad rock band now, do you?
Secondly, I’ve just signed up for a Spotify premium account (this is my preferred music sharing device). So yeah, I do pay for my music, and as such, I expect to have unlimited, reckless, wanton access to whatever music I like. This includes El Camino. The thing you have to realize is, Spotify gives me access to so many bands, instead of listening to El Camino I’m going to listen to something else entirely. Right now, that something else is Brothers and Thickfreakness (both on repeat), so you’ve haven’t completely lost this one after all, Keys.
What I’m trying to say is that we’re a generation of music consumers unlike any other generation. We’re demanding and fickle, and we’re used to having whatever we want at the click of a button. Your prime market, especially now that you’re a ‘big’ band, is full of easily bored hedonists, and you need to be there for us, or we might lose interest.
With music sharing devices like Spotify discouraging music pirating, the Napster born era of illegal music appropriation seems to be drawing to a slow close. We’re now happy to pay our premium service fees, but this comes with its conditions — we want to be on the pulse. We want El Camino NOW, while El Camino is still NOW. Next month, while we’re still going to love El Camino, we’re going to be clamoring to listen to the Next Big Thing. Which doesn’t help you if you plan to release El Camino on Spotify at a later date.
Essentially, it seems like maybe you’re daring people to steal your music. Please don’t do this, we’ve worked so hard and come so far! We’ve all bought tickets to your shows, and will continue to do so. We love shows! Please don’t resort to cheap tricks or be shameless, annoying chart climbers! You’re better than that. So do us a solid guys, and get on Spotify. We’re sick of listening to El Camino via average YouTube clips and mp3s of questionable origin.
Love you always,